IL-18 Can Prevent Inflammation in the Retina

by Dan Roberts
Updated April 2014
A new finding by researchers at Trinity College Dublin may lead to another treatment for wet AMD. Inflammation in the retina results from blood vessel development, and the natural component named IL-18 has been found to keep the process under control. By injecting the chemical into the eye, or by injecting a gene that produces IL-18, the scientists speculated that they could keep dry AMD from developing into wet AMD. In other words, it would be a preventative treatment, similar to a vaccination.
This discovery was the first step in a long road to clinical application. It must first be tested in animals, then go through human clinical trials, which means about 10 years of intensive lab work and fund raising. Co-authors of the Nature Medicine paper, published in the April 2012 issue of Nature, were Dr. Sarah Doyle and Dr. Matthew Campbell.
After 2 years of further study researchers reported online April 2, 2014 in Science Translational Medicine that that low doses of IL-18 had no adverse effects on the retina and yet still suppressed abnormal blood vessel growth. They also found that IL-18 seems effective when given intravenously instead of through injections directly into the eye.