Diagnosis Of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Before Symptoms Start

Armen Hareyan's picture
Eye and Vision

A test to show whether a person may be genetically predisposed to suffer one of the most prevalent forms of blindness in the elderly - before symptoms arise - has moved a step closer to reality after a licence agreement involving Cambridge Enterprise.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is among the most common causes of blindness in Europe and the USA, affecting one in 15 people over the age of 75.

However, the licence agreement between Cambridge University's commercialisation company Cambridge Enterprise and Canadian molecular diagnostic company Arctic Dx could herald a significant step forward in testing for the possibility of AMD.

The condition begins with a blurring that ultimately leads to blindness caused by the progressive thinning and degeneration of the macula, the central portion of the retina.

ArcticDx Inc has completed a licence agreement for a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) located in the complement C3 gene that is a demonstrated predictive indicator for the genetic diagnosis of the condition.


The licence provides ArctixDx with rights to incorporate this SNP into a diagnostic test they are developing as a means of enhancing its accuracy.

President and CEO of ArcticDx, Greg Hines said: "This will be the first time that clinicians will be able to diagnosis the condition before symptoms arise. This provides the opportunity for targeted patient education and routine eye examinations that offer early detection and disease management.

"Macular Degeneration is a disease that can be arrested but it is not reversible. It is important to offer earlier treatment regimens that may arrest the disease before significant vision loss occurs".

The research team working on complement C3 was lead by Professor John Yates from the University's Department of Medical Genetics.

Professor Yates said: "We are delighted that six years of Medical Research Council sponsored research has produced results that increase our understanding of this devastating disease and should lead to better treatments and outcomes for patients".

Dr Maher Khaled of Cambridge Enterprise said: "The licence to ArcticDx represents a continuing interest in finding a solution to a medical condition that affects 1 in 15 people over the age of 75 and with an aging population is a major public health problem. We look forward to the first test for age-related macular degeneration emerging from ArcticDx".