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Study Finds Hope For ARMD

Armen Hareyan's picture

"A protein found in blood cells could be the key to treating or preventing two of the commonest causes of blindness", The Times reports today. The article continues that US scientists used drugs to prevent damage in mice given a condition similar to age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and diabetic retinopathy. The drugs activated Robo4, a protein that controls two of the main factors in the eye conditions: abnormal vessel growth and blood vessel leakage.

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The well-conducted animal study that lies behind these stories will be of interest to the scientific and medical communities. However, only studies in humans will show whether Robo4 has real potential for the treatment of vascular eye disease. It should be noted that only one in 10 ARMD patients has the type of the disease that is associated with the new growth of abnormal blood vessels (i.e. 'wet' ARMD) and so might benefit from treatments based on this technology.

Considering that diabetic retinopathy is currently treated with lasers and not with drugs that prevent blood cells growing, it seems more likely that any treatment from this technology would focus on wet ARMD (which is currently treated with anti-VEGF drugs that prevent or slow the growth of blood vessels).