Researchers at the University of Southampton have been working on an innovative solution to treating sight loss in old age.
The study has been lead by Professors Andrew Lotery, Jessica Teeling and Dr Arjuna Ratnayaka. Their research has given them the ability to replicate important features of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in mice. These mice quickly develop damage in their retinas similar to retinal lesions in dry AMD patients, which could have a huge impact in understanding this complex disease and help develop meaningful treatments.
AMD, a common blinding disease where central vision is irreversibly lost, affects one in three people in their 80’s. Recognising faces, reading and driving are among some of the difficulties patients of AMD face, with over 600,000 people in the UK being affected – a number which is ever increasing due to an ageing population. There is another form of the disease known as Wet (choroidal neovascular) AMD, which can be managed in most patients by receiving monthly injections. The dry form accounts for approximately half of late-stage AMD patients and does not have any effective treatment.
This [study]is the result of multi-disciplinary work by a team of scientists and clinicians over a seven-year period
Dr Ratnayaka, lecturer in Vision Sciences at the University, has commented on the importance of their discoveries:
These mice could help us understand how AMD causes damage to the retina.
It appears that prolonged injections of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) inhibitors, which is used to manage wet AMD in patients, can sometimes result in a switch to the dry form.
The Southampton AMD mouse model has therefore come at a critical time, as it could be used to develop effective future therapies against dry AMD.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, highlights that this new mouse model could as a result be a potential game changer in helping to treat patients in the future.