Prof. Hye-Won Chung from Konkuk University School of Medicine Develops a Technology for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
A research team of Hye-Won Chung from Konkuk University School of Medicine developed a new technology that can treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by controlling aging. The technology increases the regenerative capacity of retinal tissue by removing aging cells accumulated in the retina.

Prof. Chung’s research team and a research team of Prof. Ja-Hyoung Yoo and Chaekyu from UNIST discovered a groundbreaking drug that can treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by removing aging cells. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as one of the three major diseases that result in blindness, is a serious retinal disease caused by buildup of metabolic waste material in retina and deterioration of retinal pigment epithelia tissue, with a prevalence of about 5% in the 50s, 12% in the 60s and nearly 18% in the 70s or older. AMD is categorized into two types depending on the progression; dry (80-90% of patient ratio) and wet (10-20% of patient ratio). Currently, there is only drug treatment of anti-VEGF for wet AMD that relieves lesions by inhibiting the production of new blood vessels.

Based on a fact that there are accumulated aging cells damaging surrounding tissues while continuing chronic inflammatory responses in the retina of AMD patients, the research team developed the technology. With a hypothesis that can treat AMD by increasing regenerative capacity of retinal tissues removing aging cells, Prof. Chung’s team began the research.

The research team found out that aging cells accumulated in retina play an essential role in causing AMD by using animal models of dry and wet AMD. Furthermore, the team succeeded in discovering drugs of high clinical value that can remove aging cells through drug evaluation, thus restoring bioregenerative capacity and alleviating ADM symptoms.

Prof. Chung said, “We have found out additional candidate drugs to remove aging cells, some of which will undergo preclinical testing and clinical trials for patients with ADM.”

The research was published in ‘GeroScience (published by the American Aging Association)’, the top 4% academic journal in the field of aging on the JCR (Journal Citation Reports) influence index. The National Research Foundation of Korea supported the research as Development Project of Source Technology to Control Aging and Basic Research Project (mid-sized).