Age-related Macular Degeneration Increases Risk of Severe COVID-19 Infection
“Our findings add to the body of evidence for the increased risk of infection and mortality from COVID-19 among AMD patients. Our analysis lends credence to previously reported clinical studies that found those with AMD have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection and severe disease, and that this increased risk may have a genetic basis,” explained co-corresponding author Lindsay A. Farrer, Ph.D., chief of biomedical genetics.
Using huge genetic databases containing tens of thousands of individuals, the BU research team conducted a genome-wide search for polymorphisms that are jointly related to AMD and each of three COVID-19 outcomes (infection rate, serious illness, and hospitalization). These datasets were previously created and investigated separately for genetic variables associated with AMD risk and each of the COVID-19 disease outcomes. Following that, the researchers reviewed publicly accessible data from patients with AMD or COVID-19, as well as control groups, to assess the correlation of PDGFB polymorphisms with gene activity. Finally, they used an analytical technique to look into the relationships between PDGFB gene variants, PDGFB levels in the blood, AMD, and COVID-19 results.
Treatment of Age-related Macular Degeneration
According to the study, reducing PDGFB gene activity and serum PDGF levels may reduce the severity of COVID-19, especially in elderly adults. “Therapeutic strategies combining anti-VEGF therapy (a current treatment for AMD that limits blood vessel growth in the eye that can harm vision) with antagonists (drugs that bind to receptors) for blocking PDGF signaling have been considered even more effective than the single VEGF treatment and are currently under investigation in clinical trials,” added co-corresponding author Manju L. Subramanian, M.D., associate professor of ophthalmology.
The researchers feel that to further understand the overlapping pathology and risk factors that contribute to worsening clinical outcomes in both disease states, a larger sample size for critical illness and hospitalizations would be required.
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