An untreatable, age-related condition leading to loss of vision could be slowed by injecting a “cocktail of molecules” into the eye.
Researchers at the Australian National University are developing a gene therapy for dry age-related macular degeneration, a disease which involves damage to the part of the eye that creates the sharpest vision.
The new eye injection could stop the disease from progressing, potentially saving millions of people from going blind.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and dry AMD is the most common form.
“If doctors find there are traces of dry AMD advancing in your retina there is nothing they can do for you – your sight can’t be saved,” researcher Joshua Chu-Tan said.
Dr Chu-Tan has focused his research on preventive gene therapy using tiny molecules he has labelled as “the gods of gene regulation”, which are also called microRNA.
The microRNA has been able to target causes of AMD.
There are expected to be 196 million people worldwide with AMD by next year.
“When we inject anti-inflammatory mircoRNA into the eye we see a decrease in genes responsible for inflammation and cell death, as well as a slowing in the damage progression of the retina,” Dr Chu-Tan said.
“By injecting a cocktail of these molecules we think we can slow the progression of this disease and hopefully halt vision loss.”
Dr Chu-Tan will present his research findings at a TEDx talk in New Zealand this Sunday.
Australian Associated Press