Overview – Drs Imre Lengyel and Alan Stewart on AMD

19 September 16

written by:

Ade Deane-Pratt

(more articles)

Dr Lengyel and Dr Stewart give a 2-minute summary of their research into a hallmark sign of age-related macular degeneration

Dr Imre Lengyel is a senior research fellow at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Dr Alan Stewart is a lecturer in molecular medicine at the University of St Andrew’s. They came into the Fight for Sight office recently to tell us about how they’ve been getting on. Here they are giving a 2-minute overview of the work on age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

What they said:

  • Imre: I’m Dr Imre Lengyel from UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. 
  • Alan: I’m Dr Alan Stewart from the University of St Andrews. 
  • Imre: AMD takes decades to develop. Fatty protein deposits build up in the light-sensitive part of the eye and block nutrients from reaching the photosensitive cells and prevent waste disposal from the daily damage to these cells.
  • Alan: A hallmark of AMD is the build-up of a substance we call ‘drusen’ in the light-sensitive part of the eye. Drusen are made of fat and protein and a type of calcium called hydroxyapatite.
  • Imre: What we found in eye tissue samples from elderly people with and without AMD is that a type of calcium called hydroxyapatite that’s in teeth and bones plays a central role in deposit formation. We’d never expected to see hydroxyapatite in that part of the eye before because it’s pretty indestructible once it’s formed.
  • Alan: We think that when drusen builds up, it eventually leads to the death of the light-sensitive cells.
  • Imre: We’ve shown that fat and protein clump to hydroxyapatite. So we need to understand how and why.
  • Alan: Some of the proteins in drusen have been linked to AMD before and many are found in the blood. So our team is looking at proteins circulating in the blood. We want to find out which ones bind together with hydroxyapatite and how do they do it?
  • Imre: Based on our observations hydroxyapatite may turn out to be a good biomarker for very early AMD or a target for treatment to stop progress to sight loss in AMD.
  • Alan: Ultimately what we want is to find a way to prevent AMD altogether. Understanding and preventing drusen formation Could be the beginning.

Find out more about their research

How do calcium and protein build up in the eye and what’s the link to AMD?

1 July 15 - 1 June 17

A surprise link to the mineral found in teeth and bones.

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Waste disposal in the eye

1 January 12 - 31 December 15

Understanding how age-related macular degeneration develops over time.

Find out more