Scientists Find Potential Approach for Treating Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), An Eye Disease

By Ellainie Calangian, Parent Herald February 14, 10:51 pm

A new study describes a possible approach to treating eye diseases such as the age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in which the scientists find out that the cytokine or referred to as IL-33 recruits phagocytes to impaired retina and stimulates retinal degeneration.

Science Daily reports that the study was fronted by Menno Van Lookeren Campagne and Hongkang Xi, researchers from the Department of Immunology at Genentech Inc., in South San Francisco in California. It was published in the February Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The study involved rats and mice. The scientists discovered that the Muller glial cells which are the specialized retina cells discharge IL-33 in retort to retinal injury. Then the IL-33 ties to its receptors in the area of the Muller cells and produces the release of added inflammatory proteins that draw phagocytes to the impaired retina.

Once the IL-33 is blocked and was inhibited, it prevented the injury-induced retinal degeneration. They also found out that cytokine or IL-33 levels are enlarged in the retinas of the AMD patients. This study led to the possible treatment of AMD patients and other retinal degeneration by preventing the IL-33.

"This study for the first time shows increased expression of IL-33 in AMD and further demonstrates a role of glia-derived IL-33 in the accumulation of myeloid cells in the outer retina, loss of photoreceptors and functional impairment of the retina in pre-clinical models of retinal stress," the authors of the study said.

WebMD states that the Age-Related Macular Degeneration is the main cause of the severe loss of vision of people with age over 60 years old. The retina which is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye deteriorates in AMD.

According to WebMD, AMD cannot be treated. It can only be improved with vision aids, laser therapy, medications and vitamins. 

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