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News, Research

New approach needed for AMD research

31/07/2019By Callum Glennen
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A working group assembled by the US National Advisory Eye Council (NAEC) has called for a change in strategy among researchers investigating potential cures for atrophic age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The group’s recommendations come after the NAEC, a 12 member panel that helps guide the US’ National Eye Institute, identified a need to investigate the current state of research into both atrophic AMD and neovascular AMD.

In particular, it is hoped a new approach could bridge the gap in treatment between the two conditions. While anti-VEFG drugs have proven to be successful in treating neovascular AMD, there is still no therapy for atrophic AMD.

According to the panel more collaborative and interdisciplinary research is required to find new treatments.

Dr Lindsay Farrer
Dr Lindsay Farrer
“There are a plethora of genetic and environmental factors interweaving and contributing to this disease in ways known and unknown”
Dr Lindsay Farrer, Boston University

"There are a plethora of genetic and environmental factors interweaving and contributing to this disease in ways known and unknown," Dr Lindsay Farrer, chief of the biomedical genetics division at Boston University School of Medicine, said.

"Our article reflects on what we know thus far and calls for interdisciplinary research, with ideas on where to go next, towards answers that will bring about meaningful clinical results."

Suggestions include an integrated collaboration of clinicians, imaging experts and a variety of basic scientists, bioinformaticians and biostaticians. The authors also suggest that a biorepository of eye tissue be established that would contain tissue from donors both with and without AMD.

The group’s recommendations are focussed on untangling the complex array of factors, such as genetics and lifestyle risks, which are believed to play a part in atrophic AMD. Successfully doing so would require a large-scale, collaborative and multidisciplinary approach, the authors conclude.

“We propose that researchers utilise a systems biology approach, integrating the big data available from clinical registries and various fields of biology known as ‘omics’ to develop better models and ultimately treatments for patients with this blinding disease,” Dr Joan Miller, Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology chair, said.

The authors also request health institutes reconsider how they allocate funding, and also suggest longer follow-up times with clinical trial patients.

The group’s full recommendations were published in the journal Nature Communications.

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