Behind the headlines

Dr David Robert Grimes looks at the eye health issues that are making the news.

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GENE THERAPY FOR AMD IS A SUCCESS

Perhaps the most exciting new modality to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is gene therapy, the introduction of genetic material to compensate for defective or abnormal genetics. In February, this procedure was pioneered on a patient, Janet Osborne, at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, part of a collaboration between the National Institute for Health Research’s Oxford Biomedical Research Centre and Gyroscope Therapeutics.

Janet has dry AMD, where the complement system becomes overactive, assaulting retinal cells and damaging vision in the process. Gene therapy attempts to moderate the complement system so it ceases its onslaught on retinal cells. Researchers therefore created a synthetic virus that can be injected into the eye. Once its synthetic DNA is released, the hope is that cells impacted will begin making a protein that can modify the disease by countering inflammation.

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