New discoveries in molecular and cellular biology are expanding our understanding of AMD and accelerating the pace of research. Scientists and practitioners are conducting investigations to learn more about the underlying causes of AMD and testing a number of promising therapies for both the dry and wet forms.
Cell cycle modifiers
These drugs lessen the build-up of harmful waste deposits in the retina by slowing the visual cycle. The deposits can interfere with the retina's ability to nourish the eye's light-sensing cells, which is a characteristic of dry AMD. Several study medications are in various stages of testing in the United States and abroad, including the oral medication emixustat hydrochloride (SEATTLE Study). Investigators are awaiting results of the SEATTLE Study, which was conducted at Casey Eye Institute along with other clinical trial centers.
Anti-angiogenic drugs and combination therapies
Other medications are being studied at Casey and elsewhere to improve or refine current treatments of wet AMD. For example, drugs that reduce inflammation or target a different source of abnormal blood vessel growth are being tested in combination with Lucentis or Avastin to learn if treatment benefits can be prolonged. While some early studies show promise, additional larger clinical trials are needed to confirm these findings.
Casey Eye Institute and other research centers are exploring the use of helpful genes to halt the growth of harmful blood vessels that occurs in wet AMD. The gene medication, which is delivered to the retina by a harmless, non-active virus, may provide more long-lasting protection than the current treatment of repeated injections of anti-angiogenic medications. The treatment, called RetinoStat®, was found to be safe in an earlier group of study patients. Casey is testing a final group in the clinical trial, which is sponsored by Oxford Biomedica.
Stem cell therapy
Scientists are studying the use of human stem cells to rescue and replace retinal cells in people with degenerative eye disease. The hope is to preserve vision and ultimately restore vision in these patients. Early stage investigations are underway that will help determine whether stem cell therapy is safe and effective in the human eye.
A promising class of biomedicines contains neuroprotective proteins that slow or prevent the degeneration of cells in the retina. These experimental therapies are being tested in patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and dry AMD.
Because AMD is so widespread and treatment options limited, numerous remedies claim to restore vision. Some of these include microcurrent stimulation, various herbs, rheotherapy and magnet therapy. We do not recommend these and other treatments that have not undergone rigorous scientific testing.