I’ve frequently heard patients say they hope a new drug is developed soon to treat macular degeneration (AMD). Just how likely is that to happen?
If you’ve read our FREE Research Summary: Genetics, Epigenetics and Macular Degeneration Treatment you’ve learned that AMD is a “complex disease”. This means that like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, it’s both a genetic disease and a behavioral disease.
Actions you take like smoking or foods you eat like sugar or omega-6 vegetable oils are “triggers” and will “activate” or turn on your macular degeneration genes and may also shut off the normal “housekeeping” genes that keep your retinal cells healthy.
Because of this, a drug designed to fight macular degeneration would have to have the opposite effect. It would have to turn off the disease genes and turn on the normal housekeeping genes.
This presents some serious problems.
- A drug that’s able to turn genes on or off may unintentionally end up shutting down or turning on other genes that are important to your health.
- The drug could potentially treat your macular degeneration but cause a fatal cancer. At present we don’t know how to prevent that from happening.
- And as Robin Williams said, “That’s not a side-effect, that’s an effect.”
While we are able to look at “epigenetic patterns” that map changes in activity, genetic effects vary over time. We might not know about the bad effects of a new drug for years.
Newly-developed genetically-active drugs are a can of worms. We won’t know what their side effects are for a long time, and consequently the testing period for the drug will last a long time.
It’s one thing to develop a genetic drug that does what you think it should do. It’s another thing to have that drug available to treat patients.
Sometimes that difference is many years.
We wish you success.