Changes in the treatment approach for AMD, core theme
Changes in the treatment approach for AMD, a core theme in the 88th Conference of the Spanish Ophthalmology Society (SEO) held in Barcelona.
This weekend marked the close of perhaps the most brilliant conference of the SEO, held in Barcelona from 26th to 29th September. With a high participation of the medical profession and the industry, the meeting included talks, symposiums and debates about the six main areas of ophthalmology (Ocular Surface and Cornea, Strabology and Neuro-ophthalmology, Retina, Glaucoma, Cataracts and Refractive surgery and Uveitis); an exciting journey through each speciality which presented participants with moments of great scientific interest.
As in previous years, the Institut de la Macula actively participated in the conference by means of talks and presentations given by its Director, Dr. Jordi Mones. On the first day, Friday 26th, Dr. Mones was present as a guest on the panel for AMD, which debated the different therapeutic options for the treatment of retinal diseases. Afterwards, he also took part in the second Heidelberg’s Expert Panel Meeting (Reunion de Expertos en Retina Heidelberg), held at the Hilton Hotel, where he presented a study on the rate of progression of dry (atrophic) macular degeneration (AMD)
First cause of blindness worldwide
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most prevalent illness in developing countries in the population over 50 years old. Together with degeneration of the outer retina and acquired retinal dystrophies, these constitute the main causes of blindness worldwide. According to a study published in the latest issue of the journal Regenerative Medicine, in spite of the development of pharmaceuticals to treat wet macular degeneration and gene therapies, there is still no cure for these conditions once the photoreceptors have been destroyed.
However, some studies conducted by research centres, including the Institut de la Macula and the Barcelona Macula Foundation have shown how this damage can be repaired with cell transplants. This has already been confirmed with positive results from preclinical studies in animal models which regained their sight after being transplanted stem cells from pigment epithelium.
For Dr. Mones, “dry AMD is a pending issue and there is a lot of work to be done. There is still no treatment for this condition and with time this causes a very severe incapacitating visual deficit. At the moment, together with degenerative diseases of the retina, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Stargardt’s disease and Myopic pathology, this is where our research should be focused” he added.
Fortunately, as the specialists explained in the talks given on the final day of the conference, intense research is being carried out all over the world and “we are increasingly near to finding effective treatments to stop degeneration of eyesight and even to regain lost sight. At the Institut de la Macula we have been especially focusing on these illnesses for some years now and have tested some new medicinal products in our country in Phase I clinical trials”, concluded Dr. Mones.
This is undoubtedly a ray of hope for the 25 million or more individuals around the world affected by AMD, a figure which increases by around 500,000 each year. In Spain, some 26,000 new cases of macular conditions are detected each year and today more than 3,000,000 individuals are at risk of developing this condition over the next few years.