New Therapies for “Dry” Macular Degeneration Under Development Based on Enzyme and DNA Research

February 8, 2011

New research has elucidated that low levels of the DICER-1 enzyme causes the buildup of toxic Alu DNA, or “junk DNA,” which causes the retinal cell death seen in “dry” macular degeneration. Through this new understanding, novel therapies can be developed that aim to prevent the build-up of Alu DNA.

Researchers from the University of Kentucky involved in this work have done just this, developing two new experimental therapies.  The first focuses on increasing DICER-1 levels in the retina through up-regulating the enzyme; DICER-1 is responsible for degrading Alu DNA.  The second directly targets Alu DNA by using an anti-sense drug to bind and degrade it.  Clinical trials are scheduled to begin by the end of this year.

Response from the scientific community has been enthusiastic: Dr. Stephen J. Ryan, president of the Doheny Eye Institute and member of the Institute of Medicine says that the work has “widespread implications” for future study “with real possibilities for future therapeutic intervention for patients with geographic atrophy.”

For more information on this research, click here.

For the abstract of the original research, click here.

Risa Schulman, PhD
Expert, Healthy Food and Dietary Supplement Science, Marketing and Regulatory




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