Imagine there is a gray blur right ahead of you, everywhere you look. And then imagine your color vision going, so that all you can see is black and white. That's what age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is like. Despite a lot of research, what's behind AMD isn't entirely clear, and researchers from U.S. universities have been trying to link together a few more puzzle pieces.
The researchers took samples of the retina from healthy, pre-AMD and AMD donor eyes and created transcriptome profiles (profiles of all the RNA produced in the cells). They found more than 50 genes that were expressed at higher levels in the AMD cell samples, and selected 20 that could predict a diagnosis of AMD, as well as its severity.
The markers showed that an immune response linked all stages of all types of AMD, and that aging, environmental stressors and genetic predisposition could all affect the onset of inflammation, leading to the changes seen in advanced disease.
According to the researchers, though further studies will be needed to confirm these findings, these genes could represent promising new targets for AMD-directed therapeutics and diagnostics.