Animal model vital in future treatment for AMD

October 25, 2007

Philadelphia, PA-University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers have created the first animal model of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Philadelphia, PA-University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers have created the first animal model of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

"To better develop treatments for preventing the progression of AMD, we need to understand the real biochemical details of how AMD occurs," said lead author Eric A. Pierce, MD, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology at Penn's K.M. Kirby Center for Molecular Ophthalmology. "To do that, we need a model, and now we have one."

"By making this particular mutant mouse, we've made a model of early macular degeneration that's caused by a mutation we know produces macular degeneration in people," said Pierce. "We think it's going to be a good model to study the pathogenesis of basal deposits."

One type of macular degeneration is thought to be caused by a mutation in the Efemp1 gene. Dr. Pierce and colleagues introduced the disease causing mutation into the Efemp1 gene of the mice.

They plan to use the mice to study how basal deposits form, what they are made of, and to test potential treatments to prevent basal deposit formations. The study is in the October issue of Human Molecular Genetics.