New Study Proves Promising for Those Living With AMD
Keilidh Ewan

New Study Proves Promising for Those Living With AMD

A new study conducted by Johns Hopkins University presents a ray of hope for those living with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The preliminary clinical trial introduced a therapeutic gene belonging to the Adeno-associated virus group (AAV2) into the eye, that delivered favourable results.

A Little About AMD

AMD is the main reason for vision loss among individuals over the age of 65 in the United Kingdom. Advanced stages of AMD affect around 600,000 people every year with doctors detecting the illness by spotting abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid into the macula. The macula is the portion of the retina that individuals use to read, drive, and recognise objects.

The Study

"Results of the study were quite astounding, with four patients having no signs of fluid in their eyes"

Johns Hopkins University and collaborators not affiliated with the institution solicited the help of 19 participants who were older than 50 years of age. All of the volunteers were diagnosed with wet AMD before agreeing to take part in the study.

Researchers divided participants into five groups and gave each class different doses of the therapeutic gene. Study coordinators only gave their subjects higher doses of medication if no adverse reaction to the drug was detected; otherwise, researchers stopped after giving participants one dose of the solution.

Results of the study were quite astounding, with four patients having no signs of fluid in their eyes. Two other group members showed signs of less fluid in their eyes after receiving the maximum dosage of therapeutic medication. Five out of the 19 participants showed no signs of fluid reduction even after having received higher doses of the test sample.

AMD can seriously impair your vision and is the main reason for vision loss among individuals over the age of 65 in the UK
AMD can seriously impair your vision and is the main reason for vision loss among individuals over the age of 65 in the UK

About the Medication

The therapeutic solution that researchers used in this study was an AAV2 virus because of the repercussions that came with injections. Recipients of the test sample exhibited symptoms that were similar to the common cold after having the drug injected into their eyes. Although the sample was capable of slowing down the further progression of macular degeneration, it did not show signs of reversing the disease altogether. Even those patients who noticed dramatic improvements could not declare themselves as free from AMD.

A Few Limitations

Even with the success of the study, there are still limitations when considering the AAV2 gene therapy for public use. More than 60 percent of the United Kingdom's population has been infected with an Adeno-associated virus (AAV2) during their lifetime. Such numbers mean that the majority of individuals living with macular degeneration may be immune to the AAV2 gene therapy treatment. Still, even with this roadblock, the overall prospect of finding a cure for age-related macular degeneration is promising.

Main photo credit: Keilidh Ewan