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RNA therapy shows promise to repair damaged retinas

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60.  It impacts very large numbers of people throughout the world.  Currently there is no cure and damage caused will often be permanent. So news of an ophthalmology breakthrough in this area is hugely exciting.

Therapies currently being trialed in the US focus on microRNAs. RNA is specifically used to read the genetic code in DNA, making it essential to many bodily functions. MicroRNA controls groups of other RNA, making it important for solving neurodegenerative disorders.

Researchers at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Australia, noticed that macular degeneration sufferers have very low levels of microRNA ‘124’, which is normally common in the retina. By re-supplying the eye with this essential substance, early stage studies gave promising indications of recovery and improved efficiency of a damaged macula.

This RNA therapy show signs of long-term benefits too, without the need for regular injections and or surgery. Research continues and unfortunately it could be years before a commercially available solution is approved and available. However, this is a critical first step to understanding what is causing macular degeneration and how it can be stopped and reversed.  This really is an ophthalmology breakthrough and something that can bring hope to millions of sufferers worldwide in the years to come.

Journal reference:  PubMed. “MicroRNA-124 Dysregulation is Associated With Retinal Inflammation and Photoreceptor Death in the Degenerating Retina” 

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