More than 30 million people worldwide are affected by age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. The standard treatments for the blinding neovascular form of the disease are anti-VEGF drugs — principally ranibizumab (Lucentis) and bevacizumab (Avastin) — but they improve vision in only a third of patients and there is concern about possible toxicity as VEGF plays an important role in normal retinal functioning. Now the identification of the cytokine receptor CCR3 as an early detection marker of the disease in a mouse model raises the possibility of early diagnosis, which would be an important contribution to improving clinical outcome. In addition, targeting CCR3 or its ligands, which inhibits the invasion of the retina by new blood vessels, may provide a safe alternative means of treatment.
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