Possible Future Therapies

Dry AMD Stem Cell Clinical Trial

The first patient in a clinical trial for dry age-related macular degeneration has been enrolled and transplanted with purified human neural stem cells. The HucCNS-SC cells protect host photoreceptors and preserve vision. The phase 1/11 trial will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of these cells as a treatment for dry AMD. 16 patients will be evaluated for a total of five years.

 

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Optical Diagnosis and Correction Techniques for Macular Degeneration

Nobel laureate Dr. Walter Kohn has developed a computerized method for measuring the precise visual distortion experienced by a macular degeneration patient. The patient, using a computer mouse and specialized software, reconstructs the Amsler grid so it appears undistorted. The computer calculates a correction factor.

Prosthetic Retina Helps to Restore Sight in Mice

The retina encodes light into neural signals. Sheila Nirenberg, physiologist at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, NY, has developed a code and a device that uses it to restore some sight in blind mice. By inserting a gene into a virus and injecting it into nerve cells in the retina and shining light into the eye they noted the mice were able to track moving stripes, something they could not do before receiving the encoded input. A microchip and a small video camera on a pair of glasses would be the instruments to create this prosthetic retina.

Clues Point To Possible Future Treatment For Geographic Atrophy

Dr. Ambati of the University of Kentucky has advanced his research on the DICER1 enzyme. When this produces Alu RNA molecules IL-18 and a critical protein known as MyD88, retinal cell death follows. They show that blocking these components could result in a new potential therapy for geographic atrophy (GA), a currently untreatable form of “dry” age-related macular degeneration. “This work further… identifies a new therapeutic target for the dry form of AMD.”

 

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FDA Approves Digital Pill Technology

The FDA has approved a microchip that is placed inside a pill. It reacts with stomach acid and sends information to a patch the patient wears on their skin. The patch sends a signal to a smartphone, which contacts the doctor, letting him know that the patient has taken the medication. The doctor can know when to rev-up a patient’s medication based on the patient’s compliance.

 

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Microneedles For Ocular Injection

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a microneedle that can deliver drugs to the eye in a minimally-invasive way. Instead of injecting with a hypodermic needle into the center of the eye, the microneedle would target the suprachoroidal space of the eye, which provides a natural passageway to the back of the eye. “That could open the door for the use of timed-release drugs that could reduce the need for frequent injections to treat chronic eye diseases.

 

"Nutriceutical" Shows Potential For Treatment of Retinal Disease

Three successful cases of treatment with an oral "nutriceutical" were reported at the annual Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology meeting in Florida. These patients had exhausted all other treatments, “making them candidates for this rescue medicine.”

 

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A New Anti-VEGF Drug?

Recent human clinical and pre-clinical research on the benefits of Integrin Peptide Therapy show positive results in blocking VEGF production at its source, thus inhibiting bleeding and fluid leakage in the eye.

 

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New Kind of Retinal Implant

A retinal implant, under development at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland and Stanford University in California, is much simpler in design and operation than present models. A thin silicon device, with no wires, is surgically implanted and electrically stimulates cells that are not affected by AMD. Video goggles deliver images to the eye via pulsed near infra-red light.

Stem Cell Research- Dry AMD

Research at the University of California, reported in the journal Lancet, has demonstrated that stem cell therapy for AMD could be safe in the short term. The very small trial (2 patients) could pave the way for larger trials.

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