Potential New Drug Target for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

May 21, 2020 | Biotechnology

Reading time: 2 minutes

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Scientists have determined that interleukin-4 (IL-4), a protein that normally triggers a helpful immune response, may interact with bone marrow cells to promote harmful blood-vessel growth in age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is a neurodegenerative disorder that develops in elderly individuals and is a major cause of visual impairments. The pathology of AMD is coupled with senescence-associated para-inflammation, including the secretion of certain cytokines.

The purpose of this study, according to the authors, was to determine “whether bone marrow cells and IL-4 protect the photoreceptors from neurodegeneration, and whether they play regulatory roles in eyes with AMD.” To do this, they determined the concentration of IL-4 and other inflammatory cytokines in the aqueous humor of the eyes of AMD. They then determined whether IL-4 and bone marrow cells play roles in protecting the eye from abnormal angiogenesis using functional assays and global transcriptional profiling of bone marrow cells derived from endothelial progenitor cells (EPC).

The work is published in eLife, in a paper titled, “Role of IL-4 in bone marrow driven dysregulated angiogenesis and age-related macular degeneration.”

The findings suggest that an immune-stimulating protein called IL-4 and its receptor may be promising targets for new drugs to treat AMD, a common form of age-related vision loss.

In patients with AMD, inflammation in the eye triggers excessive growth of new blood vessels in the center of the retina.

This process damages the photoreceptors in the eye and leads to progressive vision loss. Normally, bone marrow cells help the body repair damaged tissues, while IL-4 helps suppress excessive blood vessel growth. Co-first author Takashi Baba, MD, PhD, junior associate professor in the division of ophthalmology and visual science at Tottori University, Japan, and his collea... Want to read more? You can read the entire article in the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN) Blog.

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