Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the primary cause of irreversible blindness among the elderly in the western world. To date, no cure is available and the current anti-VEGF therapy has only shown limited efficacy in improving visual acuity in neovascular AMD. The etiology of AMD remains elusive but research over the past decade has uncovered characteristic features of the disease. These features include: oxidative stress and retinal pigment epithelial cell cytotoxicity; loss of macromolecular permeability and hydraulic conductivity in Bruch's membrane; inflammation; choroidal neovascularization and vascular leakage; and loss of neuroprotection. Recent breakthroughs in understanding the pathogenesis of AMD have spawned an array of novel therapeutic agents designed to address these hallmarks. Here we review the features of AMD and highlight the most promising therapeutic and diagnostic approaches based on the patents published from 2008 to 2011.
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