Authors: Louise White
Using a retrospective analysis comparing the incidence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) between patients taking and not taking L-DOPA, a multi-institutional team of scientists have discovered that exogenous L-DOPA may be a protective factor against this common cause of blindness.
The study, which was supported by Research to Prevent Blindness, determined that in a cohort of 37,000 patients, in those that were not taking the drug L-DOPA, AMD onset occurred at 71.2, 71.3 and 71.3 years of age in three independent cohorts. In comparison, patients with an L-DOPA prescription developed AMD at a significantly later age of 79.4. The odds ratio of developing the condition was also negatively correlated with taking L-DOPA.
AMD affects the macula, the part of the retina at the back of the eye associated with central vision. The retina pigment epithelium is a layer of tissue in the retina that supports macula development and stays healthy through L-DOPA signaling.
“There are only limited and highly invasive therapies for those with AMD and no known preventative treatment,” commented Brian S McKay, University of Arizona (AZ, USA).
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in developed nations and is currently without a cure. Examining the effects of repurposing a drug to treat the disease could prove to be vital in identifying the key pathways for treatment.
McKay stated: “In the end, L-DOPA may not be the drug that ends the disease, but the pathway identified here is likely to be a key observation as the search for a cure continues.”
Research to Prevent Blindness via Newswire; Marshfield Clinic press release; Brilliant MH, Vazir K, Connor TB, Schwartz SG, Carroll JJ, McCarty CA, McKay BS. Mining Retrospective Data for Virtual Prospective Drug Repurposing: L-DOPA and Age-related Macular Degeneration. Am. J. Med. (2015) (Epub ahead of print).