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January, 2002

The coming decade will yield exciting new findings in macular degeneration research

Technologies such as gene analysis, bioinformatics and bioengineering will usher in an exciting and revealing new era in age-related macular degeneration research.

At the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in New Orleans, ophthalmologist Stephen J. Ryan Jr., MD predicted that the next decade would bring advancements in the understanding of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) pathogenesis.  This increased understanding of the disease and its origins should result in better treatments than those available today.

Medical research today is focused on studying diseases on the molecular level.  This research, called genomics, is the key to the future of understanding how and why AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States. 

Since the annotation of the human DNA, scientists are confident that they will discover the genes responsible for AMD.  Identifying the responsible genes will produce huge amounts of data.  The challenge will be in organizing this information into researchable patterns and identifying genetic similarities in families prone to the disease.

Doctor Ryan said that animals would be studied and new therapies would be tested in order to identify which pharmacologic interventions would best serve humans.  He predicted that clinical research trials in gene therapy and bio-engineering would play a vital role in coming years.

Because of its probable genetic link, age-related macular degeneration has been frustrating for patients and doctors alike.  The next decade will bring the most fervent AMD research ophthalmology has ever seen, thanks to arduous studies of genetics.

Ref:  Ophthalmology Times, January 1, 2002

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