Macular Degeneration: Retina Patch, Tracker and Protein

Macular Degeneration: Retina Patch, Tracker and Protein

As macular degenerations continues to destroy retina after retina, researchers are fighting back with some retina resistance of their own. The retina is ground zero for cellular death which causes macular degeneration and eventually blindness. As this disease eats away at essential photoreceptor cones, major disability waits on the horizon. Preventing this devastation of over a million people worldwide would be a medical leap worthy of a Nobel Prize.

Eating proper foods that support retinal health is essential but in the essence of time, researchers are trying any workaround they can develop to slow or hopefully stop retinal damage caused by macular degeneration.

In the Pipeline

Currently, three approaches show promise in the battle against macular degeneration. These are:

  • Retinal stem cell patch
  • Vision disease tracker data base
  • Special proteins capable of enhancing retinal health

Each one of these remedies offers some beneficial results that may be immediate or can assist in research over time.

Patched Up

A specially designed retinal patch has been developed by researchers to treat people with sudden to severe vision loss. The patch contains retinal pigment epithelium cells derived from stem cells which are safely and effectively implanted just below the retina. The goal is to replenish diseased cells with healthy ones to eventually takeover and restore vision.

It was reported that 86-year-old Douglas Waters received the patch at Moorfields Eye Hospital, a National Health Service facility in Waters’ hometown of London, England. According to Futurity Health and Medicine,

“In the months before Waters’ surgery, his vision was poor and he couldn’t see anything out of his right eye. After the surgery, his eyesight improved so much that he could read the newspaper and help his wife with gardening.”

United Press International (UPI) also reported,

“A woman in her early 60s with a severe form of wet AMD and declining vision also had a patch implanted, reporting the same kind of improvement — she went from not being able to read at all to reading 60 to 80 words per minute with normal glasses.”

Peter Coffey, a professor at UCSB’s Neuroscience Research Institute and co-director of the campus’s Center for Stem Cell Biology & Engineering commented,

“This study represents real progress in regenerative medicine and opens the door on new treatment options for people with age-related macular degeneration. We hope this will lead to an affordable ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy that could be made available to NHS patients within the next five years.”

Data Tracker

Information is paramount when it comes to finding a remedy for any health threat. Provided by the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) a registry called My Retina Tracker® is now available to share your data. This entails logging in your symptoms, struggles and remedies to a highly secure, state-of-the-art database to add to a birds-eye view of the millions afflicted with macular degeneration.

PR Newswire reports that the information gathered from My Retina Tracker® will be able to,

“…drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and the entire spectrum of inherited retinal degenerative diseases.”

My Retina Tracker® will apply the volunteered, uploaded information to,

  • Letting affected individuals or their designated family member know when they may be eligible for clinical research studies or clinical trials
  • Studying why different people have different symptoms
  • Learning about how certain treatments work and don’t work
  • Helping medical professionals improve how they treat affected individuals with inherited retinal degenerative diseases
  • Speeding up research in inherited retinal degenerative diseases by collecting information that scientists can use

Don’t keep your struggle to yourself and share as much information as you can to help yourself and others alike. It is strength in numbers that will send this and other vision disease packing.

Power Protein

When the retina is attacked by serious vision diseases such as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa, proper glucose assimilation is compromised. Glucose is essential in keeping the retina healthy and when it is lacking vision can suffer. French researchers have determined that  naturally occurring proteins could be used to help reverse inhibited glucose absorption. The proteins are formed from what is called rod-derived cone-viability factor. (RdCVF). Labiotech (the leading digital media source covering the European Biotech industry) describes the process,

“…rod-derived cone-viability factor, binds to a transmembrane peptide on cone photoreceptor cells in the retina and allows more glucose to enter the cells. This slows down or even prevents the death of these cells, thereby stopping vision loss.”

RdCVF has been studied for years but it isn’t until now that its application can finally move from lab rodents to human patients. Using an electroretinogram (ERG) and optokinetic response (OKR), results of RdCVF applications where published in Molecular Therapy over ten years ago.

It was stated that,

“Rod-Derived cone viability factor (RdCVF) [] could potentially maintain the health of cells in patients with a diverse set of retinal degenerative diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD)…the improved ERG response for rod photoreceptors suggests that RdCVF may play a role in protecting rod photoreceptors in addition to cones. In summary, these studies demonstrate a protective effect of virally-mediated constitutive retinal expression of RdCVF on degenerating photoreceptors.”

As researchers continue to apply various proteins for treatment of macular degeneration, it seems that either a cure or successful workaround will be implemented.

Whether in a clinical trial, a combined information network, or new procedures right out of the gate, these three applications are yet another form of hope for healing. Each year optical science surprises with its new approaches and revamping of old ones. If science keeps at this steady pace it will be sooner than later that macular degeneration and other eye diseases become a thing of the past.