Attributions

Reducing photoreceptor death in dry AMD using anti-purinergic agents

Erica Fletcher, OD, PhD The University of Melbourne

Summary

We think that a molecule called ATP is released from dying photoreceptors early in the course of age-related macular degeneration that causes and accelerates the death of neighboring cells. In addition, we predict that drugs that block the actions of ATP will slow photoreceptor death and ultimately preserve vision. This project will examine this question in an animal model of age-related macular degeneration.

Project Details

Vision loss in some forms of age related macular degeneration is associated with the death of cells called photoreceptors. This project will determine whether substances released from dying photoreceptors cause the death of neighboring photoreceptors causing acceleration of vision loss. In addition we will examine whether treatments that block the actions of these released substances (called ATP) slow the death of photoreceptors and preserve vision. This project addresses a novel mechanism of photorecepetor death, and considers whether a relatively unexplored class of drug can be used in the treatment of retina disease.

We will first examine how photoreceptors die in an animal model of age-related macular degeneration, and specifically look for evidence that a molecule called ATP is released from dying photoreceptors. Secondly, we will treat animals with novel compounds that block the actions of ATP and see whether this slows disease progression.

This is an important study because drugs that block the actions of ATP are already under intense investigation for possible use in treating pain. At the conclusion of this project, the mechanisms that are involved in photoreceptor death during age-related macular degeneration will be better understood. In addition, specific information about the value of using drugs that block the action of ATP will be known.