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New hope for people with macular degeneration
Around seven million people in Germany suffer from age-related macular degeneration. This degenerative disease of the eye is by far the most common cause of blindness and a common reason why we can see less and less with age. A German research team is currently developing a drug that can stop the progressive deterioration of the eye.
Researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen have developed a new active ingredient that can stop the most common cause of age-related poor eyesight and blindness. The central role is played by an enzyme that contributes significantly to the breakdown of the macula. The macula, also known as the yellow spot, is a central area of the retina that has the greatest density of sensory cells in the eye. It is essential for the sense of sight. The research team is currently developing a new active ingredient that is intended to inhibit the responsible enzyme and thus stop the macula from breaking down.
Poor eyesight in old age could soon be a thing of the past
If letters and faces suddenly become blurred with increasing age, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can be to blame. The team around the microbiologist Professor Dr. Michael Ehrmann found that the enzyme HTRA1 protease is mainly responsible for the breakdown of the most important part of the retina. "That is why we are now trying to specifically inhibit HTRA1 in order to stop the disease from progressing," reports the professor in a press release on the research project.
State of research
The team has already identified a number of chemical substances that are able to block the HTRA1 protease enzyme. The researchers are now working on optimizing these substances so that they meet all the requirements for a medicinal active ingredient. "With an aging population worldwide, we urgently need better ways to treat AMD," Ehrmann emphasizes. The research project is expected to be completed in three years and will be supported with over 900,000 euros by the lead market competition LifeSciences.NRW. (vb)