Researchers have discovered a protein that might be related to the cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and thus provide insight into early diagnosis and treatment. The study, published in Nature Communications, was a collaboration of Queen Mary University of London, the University of Manchester, Cardiff University, and Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen.
High levels of the H-related protein 4 (FHR-4) were found in the blood and in donated macular tissue of 484 patients with AMD. FHR-4 is an important regulator of the complement (immune) system, which causes inflammation. If uncontrolled, inflammation is a major factor in degeneration of macular tissue. By targeting that particular gene, therefore, and/or by reducing blood levels of FHR-4, the discovery could lead to a yet-unavailable treatment for the disease.
SOURCE: Cipriani, V., Lorés-Motta, L., He, F. et al. Increased circulating levels of Factor H-Related Protein 4 are strongly associated with age-related macular degeneration. Nat Commun 11, 778 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-14499-3