Researchers explore macular degeneration treatment

Researchers from the Tufts University School of Medicine have found a possible topical treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by applying a molecule called PPADS to the eye in the form of eye drops.  While 90 percent of patients suffer from the dry form, the only treatment currently available is solely for the more serious wet form. This involves going to the ophthalmologist about every six weeks to have drugs injected directly into the eye — a very inconvenient process for both patient and doctor with significant side effects.

Associate Professor of Ophthalmology Rajendra Kumar-Singh was excited to find the topical solution, as the treatment has the potential to treat both the wet and dry forms of AMD.  

“In the vast majority of patients, the wet form is preceded by the dry form, and hence we believe that if we can block the progression of the dry form of the disease, we can treat both the dry form and the progression to the wet form,” Kumar-Singh said.

Kerstin Birke, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Ophthalmology, noted that there are still problems the research team must face before PPADS can proceed to clinical trials.

“It’s a very broad molecule, and it acts on many receptors,” she said. “The ideal molecule would be an analog of PPADS which only acts on the pathway that is activated through the disease process.” 

Kumar-Singh added that this treatment will take many years to perfect and test for safety.

However, researchers  are still hopeful. 

“If [PPADS] works, we will be able to free patients up from having to come into the office on such a regular basis and having this invasive procedure performed,”  Jay Duker, professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Tufts School of Medicine,  said. “They’ll be able to treat their macular degeneration at home by putting drops in their eyes.” 

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