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    Studying biomarkers in the blood

    Exciting discovery for A/ Prof Gerald Liew may lead to future treatment.

    MDFA grant for laboratory research

    MDFA funding allowed Associate Professor Gerald Liew to study biomarkers in the blood that suggest a defect in mitochondrial function may be linked to neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration.

    As the retina is the most metabolically active tissue in the body with a high concentration of mitochondria and lipids, A/Prof Liew assessed whether acylcarnitine concentrations – a marker of lipid and mitochondrial metabolism – differed between patients with wet AMD and controls.

    This collaboration between the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales found that people with wet AMD had reduced plasma levels of short-chain acetylcarnitine and increased plasma levels of long-chain dicarboxylic acylcarnitine – again highlighting the link between the nutrients we get from our diet and the development of age-related macular degeneration.

    A/Prof Liew was thrilled with the final results because they suggested that mitochondria, the power stations of the cells, may not be working properly in AMD. Even better, the findings suggested a way to correct this defect, and potentially help treat the condition.

    A/Prof Liew’s team has published three peer-reviewed papers and is pursuing a project based on these findings, which may eventually lead to a preventative intervention for the disease. Preclinical studies are now being conducted with the hope of finding compounds that may help improve mitochondrial function in AMD, which may help prevent or treat the disease in future.

    This article was first published in our ’10 Years of Research’ publication.


    10 Years of Research

    Celebrating the 10th anniversary of MDFA’s Research Grants Program, this free publication introduces you to all the talented researchers your donations have funded since 2011.


    Posted: 2 July 2021

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