Macular Degeneration Genetics and Cell Reprogramming Study

Macular Degeneration Genetics and Cell Reprogramming Study

As more people develop macular degeneration, scientists continue research to figure out still unknown causes and remedies. This dangerous disease that could lead to blindness has no cure, but in a high percentage of cases, can be slowed through macular degeneration eye vitamins  and supplements.

New research has emerged showing the beginning of potential genetic markers that could be detected prior to development. Also, there is a recent cell reprogramming study that is showing promise in possibly reversing damaged neurons causing macular degeneration and other eye related diseases such as glaucoma.

Genetics and Diet, Down the Line

Everyone’s family history comes with a long list of potential diseases, presented down the line over time that someone inevitably gets the genome for. Current testing may be able to detect some of these genomes that are turned on like a switch, predisposed to cause cellular havoc, a Trojan Horse occupying from within.

In some cases, when a genome is positively detected measures could be taken on how to address approaching this unpredictable “switch” and possibly preventing future illness. Now it looks like eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, may show in genes as well beyond some basics which have already been discovered such as the obvious reported by the West Valley News, Sun City, AZ,

“Vitreoretinal specialist Dr. Mandi D. Conway with Arizona Retinal Specialists in Sun City West said caucasians have a genetic disposition to macular degeneration. In contrast, Hispanics, Native Americans, African Americans or Asians have a lower risk.”

In a study by researchers in Boston, Massachusetts published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science it was concluded that the genome that is associated with decreased HDL (high-density lipoprotein, also called “good” cholesterol), is also inversely associated with the risk of developing advanced AMD (age-related macular degeneration).

Although there can also be a hereditary link to high cholesterol, it may be possible to reverse AMD simply through a healthy diet and exercise program.

Dr. Conway adds,

“…diet may play an important role in getting macular degeneration. Based on studies, some believe that fatty acids on the liver that metabolize have an affect on the retina.”

Nudging Cells Back to Life, Just Like Zebrafish

It is always a great realization when the work of dedicated scientists shows such advanced research that they can actually help the body when it cannot help itself.

This could be the case regarding a new study where lead researcher Bo Chen, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT, looked at the retinal neurons in zebrafish. It turns out that these and other cold-blooded creatures are able to rely on built in retinal neuron stem cells to regenerate lost, damaged, or old cells with new ones.

Mammals, on the other hand, can only do this in the case of injury otherwise the same capability  remains dormant even in the case of such eye diseases as glaucoma and macular degeneration. In fact, laboratory testing tried to purposely damage these dormant nerve cells into production which didn’t work and resulted in nerve death.

Now, professor Chen’s study has shown promise in regeneration of retinal neurons in laboratory rodents which may soon be applied to humans.

The study was published in Cell Reports (9/16). Medical News Today states,

“Using cell reprogramming techniques, scientists have managed to induce support cells in the retina to become stem cells capable of making new neurons. They suggest the technique could lead to new treatments for glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other eye diseases where retinal neurons are lost.”

Professor Chen comments,

“In the future we are hoping to manipulate these cells to replenish any lost retinal neurons, either in diseased or physically damaged retinas. Potentially, it’s a therapy to treat many different retinal degenerative diseases.”

So genetics and cell reprogramming are two ways that the future of eye health may result in macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and so many more debilitating diseases being a thing of the past. However, you may not need to wait until the far off future to benefit from this research as in some cases, it is currently being applied in human lab trials. This is just another testament to the ever changing and rapidly moving benefits of science.

(This article has been re-published with permission from