by Dan Roberts
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have discovered that a cleaning mechanism in the center of the retina may be faulty in people who develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A cleaning process called autophagy helps clear cellular waste deposits (drusen) that can build up in the retinal tissue. If autophagy diminishes, drusen deposits collect and become toxic to the sight cells.
The research team, led by Professor Kai Kaarniranta, has reported in the journal PLoS ONE that restoring and regulating proteins which interact to initiate autophagy can support and increase its effectiveness. This could lead to a new treatment protocol for AMD and other retinal degenerative diseases.
Source: Viiri J, Amadio M, Marchesi N, Hyttinen JMT, Kivinen N, et al. (2013) Autophagy Activation Clears ELAVL1/HuR-Mediated Accumulation of SQSTM1/p62 during Proteasomal Inhibition in Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells. PLoS ONE 8(7): e69563. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069563