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Research to Prevent Blindness

Immune Cell Clues To Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Apte

Rajendra S. Apte, MD, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, received a 2004 RPB Career Development Award to explore the role of the immune system in the development of leaky bloody vessels (choroidal neovascularization) in wet age-related macular degeneration.

An RPB researcher has found that the age of immune cells, called macrophages, may be key in determining whether damaging blood vessels will form beneath the retina and contribute to vision loss in age-related macular degeneration.  A better understanding of how these macrophages work can provide potential targets for therapies to slow or even reverse vision loss. The findings are reported in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.  Read the full press release.

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States in people over the age of 50. It accounts for more than 40 percent of blindness among the elderly in nursing homes, and as baby boomers get older, the problem is expected to grow, with at least 8 million cases predicted by the year 2020. 

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