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Research Updates:

Eye Fluid Protein Levels May Predict the Need for Lifelong Macular Degeneration Therapy

A recent study from Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that levels of a specific protein have been found to predict whether people with wet macular degeneration may need lifelong, frequent injections into the eyes to preserve vision or if they can be weaned off treatments safely. Macular degeneration, the most common cause of vision loss among individuals who are age 50 and older, affects an estimated 7.3 million people in the United States. The standard treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration involves the injection of “anti-VEGF drugs” that slow the progression or stop the growth of leaky blood vessels, preventing further vision loss among most of those affected. The injections, however, are “inconvenient, costly, uncomfortable, and carry risk of infection, retinal detachment and other side effects.” This protein can also be the target of new therapies to stop loss of vision. The study team investigated whether levels of certain proteins in the eye could predict “disease stabilization or progression despite treatment.” Their work received support from the National Eye Institute (NEI), the Research to Prevent Blindness Special Scholar Award, the Alcon Research Institute, and the Brianna and Irving Siswein Professorship in Ophthalmology. For more information, read the article from NEI: Measuring Levels of Proteins in Eye Fluid May Accurately Predict Need for Lifelong Macular Degeneration Therapy or the press release from Johns Hopkins Medicine News. You may read the full research findings here in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight.

New Human Cell Line Developed to Study Retinal Eye Disorders

A “new, experimental human cell line” has been shown to be a reliable way to investigate retinal degenerative diseases, such as macular degeneration. Developed by scientists from the LSU (Louisiana State University) Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence, these new cells closely resemble “native pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.” RPE cells serve “serve as part of the blood/retinal barrier” and protect the cells that are ”critical to vision.” When they are damaged, the resulting impairments in RPE may lead to eye disease. The development of the new cell allows for the study of what is involved during the normal repair process, when cell structures that have been damaged are eliminated. The study was directed by Boyd Professor Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD at LSU New Orleans Health School of Medicine supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Eye Institute (NEI) and the Eye Ear and Throat (EENT) Foundation of New Orleans. More details about the study are available from NEI: LSU Health New Orleans Develops New Human Cell Line to Study Blinding Eye Disorders and from the LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom. For the study’s findings, published in in Frontiers in Neuroscience, read the article entitled New Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cell Model to Unravel Neuroprotection Sensors of Neurodegeneration in Retinal Disease.