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Arizona surgeon first to administer new gene therapy to combat macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness
Dr. Mark Barakat is the first surgeon in the state to administer the new gene therapy for people who suffer from the disease.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 4:14 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- An Arizona surgeon is testing out a new type of gene therapy for people with the leading cause of blindness — dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Dr. Mark Barakat is the first surgeon in the state to administer the new gene therapy for people who suffer from the disease. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for people over 55 years old. Advanced AMD can cause people to lose the ability to drive and read. In addition, 1.4 million people in the nation have the disease in at least one eye. Dr. Barakat says that while the trials are still in the early stages, data shows optimistic results.

“It’s still in the clinical trial stages because, frankly, it hasn’t been shown in the phase three trials to be effective yet. We have early data to suggest that it might be effective,” said Dr. Barakat.

The gene therapy trial is designed to be a single, one-time injection under the retina to deliver a gene into cells inside the eye. The gene therapy aims to help the eye make additional disease-fighting proteins for long periods. A vital part of the study is to see if the treatment is effective at slowing down the progression of the disease since vision loss is permanent in advanced cases. For more information about the treatment and disease, visit gyroscopetx.com.