‘One step closer’: Cure for age related blindness may be on the horizon

Dec 23, 2022
Age-related macular degeneration is the most common macular disease in Australia with approximately one in seven Australians over the age of 50 with some evidence of AMD or 1.4 million Australians. Source: Getty Images.

The days of simply accepting vision loss as just a part of the ageing process may soon be over after it was revealed scientists could be “one step closer” to developing a cure for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

According to the Macular Disease Foundation Australia, AMD “is a chronic and painless disease of the macula” and “is responsible for half of all blindness and severe vision loss” in Australia.

The condition causes the loss of central vision, impacting an individual’s ability to read, recognise faces and watch television.

AMD is the most common macular disease in Australia with approximately one in seven Australians over the age of 50 with some evidence of AMD or 1.4 million Australians.

Almost 15 per cent of Australians aged over 80 suffer from vision loss or blindness as a result of age-related macular degeneration.

However, the tide may turn on these alarming figures after scientists from the Clear Vision Research Lab at The Australian National University (ANU) partnered up with Korean biotech company MDimune Inc. to begin work on developing a cure for AMD.

Scientists believe that certain cells could operate as information carriers to transport drugs and treatments to specific areas of the body. The team at ANU believe this form of therapy could also treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Technology from MDimune uses cell-derived vesicles (CDVs), the particles produced by cells that serve as information carriers, to transport various drugs to specific parts of the body.

Head of the ANU Clear Vision Research Lab, Associate Professor Natoli and his team, which includes Dr Adrian Cioanca and Dr Yvette Wooff, plan to utilise such technology to administer new drug therapies that can safely reach a patient’s retina.

In promising news for those impacted by AMD, preclinical trials have proven successful.

“This exciting partnership with MDimune brings us one step closer to developing new drug therapies that could one day cure AMD, a debilitating disease that causes vision loss in about 200 million people worldwide,” Natoli said.

“This novel class of drug carriers and therapeutics are highly versatile and can be generated from various types of human cells, meaning they can be produced in large quantities.

“We are excited at the possibility of the MDimune-developed BioDrone platform technology for use as a therapeutic and drug delivery for the eye.”

Chief Scientific Officer at MDimune, Dr Seung Wook Oh said researchers “are thrilled to launch this collaboration to develop AMD therapeutics with the world-class research group at ANU”.

“It will be a great opportunity for us to confirm the anti-inflammatory and regenerative capacity of stem cell-derived CDVs as therapeutics.

“Also, through our collaboration with ANU, we anticipate that we can facilitate the commercialisation of the BioDrone platform with global pharmaceutical companies.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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