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Biomarkers to show the path of AMD

A new project at CERA is aiming to identify new biomarkers to predict progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Dr Zhichao Wu

Dr Zhichao Wu

The project will use the extensive imaging that came out of the nanosecond laser project.

A biomarker is a substance, structure or process that can be objectively measured in the body to indicate how it is functioning.

“We saw the opportunity to tease out who amongst the large group of people with the early signs of macular degeneration would progress to the later stages of the disease,” says Research Fellow Dr Zhichao Wu.

One in seven Australians over the age of 50 have the early signs of AMD, with about one in six going on to develop later complications within three years, says Dr Wu.

These include ‘wet’ macular degeneration (named for the bleeding within or beneath the retina) which can be treated if caught early, and ‘dry’ macular degeneration, for which there is no treatment.

CERA is collaborating with international partners to use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the imaging data.

“AI helps discover things that we potentially — as humans — might not pick up, or may not have previously thought of,” says Dr Wu.

But human expertise is still crucial, as the most promising biomarkers identified so far have been based on careful scrutiny of new imaging technologies. Dr Wu hopes these new biomarkers will help identify high-risk individuals for extra monitoring and inclusion in new treatment studies.

Read more stories like this in CERA’s 2018 Annual Review.