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Modified vitamin A may help prevent age-related macular degeneration

Columbia University Medical researchers were able to use a modified form of vitamin A which had less incidence of clumping which may help prevent vision loss due to macular degeneration. The details of this study were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Clumpy deposits of vitamin A which are known as "vitamin A dimers" are thought to be the main culprits in causing macular degeneration. These "clumps" are caused when vitamin A reacts with another molecule of vitamin A. Armed with this knowledge, researchers synthesized a modified vitamin A and gave it to mice with the same genetic defect as humans with early vision loss. This modified vitamin A resulted in fewer vitamin A dimers. The result was improved vision. Previous attempts at preventing the formation of vitamin A dimers by altering the processing of vitamin A by the eye had poor results which included inhibited vision and side effects. Researchers hope the results of this newest study will lead to new therapies to treat not only age-related macular degeneration but Stargardt's disease as well. Elise Ervin Staff Writer

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