Navigation Links
UNC study suggests new approach to common cause of blindness

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine in collaboration with lead investigators at the University of Kentucky have identified a new target for the diagnosis and treatment of age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in older Americans.

In a study published online June 14, 2009 by the journal Nature, the researchers demonstrate that blocking the activity of a specific protein called CCR3 -- can reduce the abnormal blood vessel growth that leads to macular degeneration. Furthermore, targeting this new protein may prove to be safer and more effective than the current treatment for the disease, which is directed at a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor or "VEGF."

The discovery -- made in mouse models and cultured human cells --may also enable physicians to catch the disease in its earliest stages, before blood vessels have fully infiltrated and destroyed the central portion of the eye's retina -- an area known as the macula -- to cause vision loss.

"It would be much better to prevent the disease in the first place," said study co-author and principal investigator of the UNC study site, Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, M.D., a professor of ophthalmology in the UNC School of Medicine. "An exciting implication of this study was that the CCR3 protein could be detected in early abnormal blood vessel growth, giving us the opportunity to prevent structural damage to the retina and preserve vision."

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects 30 to 50 million people globally, and that number is expected to double in the next decade as the baby boomer generation ages. The disease is currently treated with drugs that block the effects of VEGF, a growth factor that promotes the growth of abnormal blood vessels. However, because this factor is also involved in the growth and health of normal blood vessels, concerns have been raised about the safety of its long-term use. To date, however, these anti-VEGF agents have been found to be safe.

Thus, the investigators sought to identify a new target for treatment that is specific to AMD. They detected the presence of the CCR3 protein in eye tissue from humans with AMD but not in that of individuals of similar age who did not have the disease. When they blocked CCR3, either with drugs or through genetic engineering, they saw a decrease in the generation of abnormal blood vessels. Drugs targeting CCR3 were significantly more effective than those targeting VEGF, meaning this could represent a new therapy for the two-thirds of patients that do not respond to current treatment.

The researchers now may look to see if levels of the protein can be detected in the bloodstream in order to identify people who are at risk of developing the disease. They also plan to search for genetic changes in the CCR3 gene in patients with AMD to better understand its causes.


Contact: Les Lang
University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Related medicine news :

1. Penn study finds pro-death proteins required to regulate healthy immune function
2. New study shows promise in reducing surgical risks associated with surgical bleeding
3. Study, meta-analysis examine factors associated with death from heatstroke
4. Study suggests loss of 2 types of neurons -- not just 1 -- triggers Parkinsons symptoms
5. Study says COPD testing is not measuring up
6. Preclinical study suggests organ-transplant drug may aid in lupus fight
7. Ability to cope with stress can increase good cholesterol in older white men, study finds
8. High alcohol consumption increases stroke risk, Tulane study says
9. Mailman School of Public Health study examines link between racial discrimination and substance use
10. Pitt study finds inequality in tobacco advertising
11. Stanford study highlights cost-effective method of lowering heart disease risks
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... First Choice Emergency Room ... Dr. Sesan Ogunleye, as the Medical Director of its new Mesquite-Samuell Farm facility. ... of our new Mesquite location,” said Dr. James M. Muzzarelli, Executive Medical Director of ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Oklahoma (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... both athletes and non-athletes recover from injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures ... Oklahoma City area —Johnson is one of the first doctors to perform the ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits of moderation, ... the latter, setting the bar too high can result in disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. ... toward their goal. , Research from reveals that behind the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Those who ... with these feelings, many turn to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or alcohol abuse, ... Marne, Michigan, has released tools for healthy coping following a traumatic event. , Trauma ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son ... lash out at his family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t ... would use it. He would throw rocks at my other children and say he was ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... NAMUR , Belgium , ...  (NYSE MKT: VNRX), today announced the appointment of ... Board of Directors as a Non-Executive Director, effective ... the Company,s Audit, Compensation and Nominations and Governance ... Board, Dr. Futcher will provide independent expertise and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... DUBLIN , June 23, 2016 ... the "Pharmaceutical Excipients Market by Type (Organic Chemical ... Preservative), Formulation (Oral, Topical, Coating, Parenteral) - Global Forecast ... The global pharmaceutical excipients ... 2021 at a CAGR of 6.1% in the forecast ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Research and ... News Issue 52" report to their offering. ... influenza treatment creates a favourable commercial environment for MedImmune to ... patient base that will serve to drive considerable growth for ... would serve to cap sales considerably, but development is still ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: