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Researchers link Alzheimer’s protein to AMD

The eyes of patients with age-related macular degeneration contain high levels of amyloid beta

elderly woman on bench
Pixabay/Udo Voigt

A protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease has been connected to age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

New research, which was published in Cells, highlighted that high levels of amyloid beta proteins were found within donor eyes of patients who had suffered from AMD.

These proteins are the primary driver of Alzheimer’s and collect around the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of patients as they age.

To test the effect of amyloid beta protein on the RPE, scientists exposed mouse eyes to the protein.

They observed that the mice developed retinal pathology that is similar to AMD in humans.

A potential next step in the research would be to investigate whether drugs developed to combat the effect of amyloid beta in Alzheimer’s patients could be re-purposed and trialled as a treatment for AMD.

Study lead and University of Southampton vision sciences lecturer, Dr Arjuna Ratnayaka, highlighted: “This could be a new pathway that no-one has explored before. Our discoveries have also strengthened the link between diseases of the eye and the brain. The eye is part of the brain and we have shown how amyloid beta, which is known to drive major neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, can also causes significant damage to cells in retina.”