Trial Drug Slows Age-related Macular Degeneration in Mice

by VR Sreeraman on Oct 13 2008 4:57 PM

A new study in mice has shown that retinylamine, a trial drug that has been tested in a medical school lab, markedly slows the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The findings, by researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, provide evidence for biochemical change in the retina that resemble AMD.

The study was led by postdoctoral researcher Akiko Maeda, an investigator in the lab of one of her co-authors, Krzysztof Palczewski.

Palczewski, who is chair and the John H. Hord Professor of Pharmacology at the School of Medicine, said that AMD currently isn''t usually treated until toward the end of the disease.

However, with the discovery in his lab by Maeda and her research team, retinylamine can potentially prevent the rapid degeneration of the eye, slowing the rate of progression of AMD.

As humans go through the aging process, it eventually affects the vision and a fraction of those cases will progress further and potentially develop AMD.

Through their work on mouse models, Maeda and her team have learned to modify the genes that establish the rate of changes related to AMD.

However, the biochemical trigger of these changes had not been understood until now as a result of the retinylamine treatments.

"We have proven this observation, genetically, biochemically and pharmacologically. Dr. Maeda, who studies retinal degenerative diseases in my lab and works to develop models that will facilitate the evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of drug candidates designed to combat retinal disease in humans, has done superb work in this area. We’re very excited about the potential this outcome represents," Palczewski said.

"Until now, with the discovery in our lab, the genesis of that progression wasn’t known. Now we have the potential to intervene in the middle of the disease’s advancement so we can prevent rapid degeneration of the eye. The importance of this work also is illustrated by the five-year K08 award made to Dr. Maeda by the National Eye Institute," Palczewski said.

The study is reported in the prestigious Journal of Biological Chemistry.