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Clin Ophthalmol. 2016 Jan 28;10:243-9. doi: 10.2147/OPTH.S100042. eCollection 2016.

Evaluation of an oral telomerase activator for early age-related macular degeneration - a pilot study.

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McPherson Eye Research Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA; Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, WI, USA.
Independent Telomere Biology Consultant, Murphys, CA, USA.



Telomere attrition and corresponding cellular senescence of the retinal pigment epithelium contribute to the changes of age-related macular degeneration. Activation of the enzyme telomerase can add telomeric DNA to retinal pigment epithelium chromosomal ends and has been proposed as a treatment for age-related macular degeneration. We report the use of a small molecule, oral telomerase activator (TA)-65 in early macular degeneration. This study, focusing on early macular degeneration, provides a model for the use of TAs in age-related disease.


Thirty-eight (38) patients were randomly assigned to a 1-year, double-blinded, placebo-controlled interventional study with arms for oral TA-65 or placebo. Macular functions via micro-perimetry were the primary measured outcomes.


The macular function in the arm receiving the TA-65 showed significant improvement relative to the placebo control. The improvement was manifest at 6 months and was maintained at 1 year: macular threshold sensitivity (measured as average dB [logarithmic decibel scale of light attenuation]) improved 0.97 dB compared to placebo (P-value 0.02) and percent reduced thresholds lessened 8.2% compared to the placebo arm (P-value 0.04).


The oral TA significantly improved the macular function of treatment subjects compared to controls. Although this study was a pilot and a larger study is being planned, it is noteworthy in that it is, to our knowledge, the first randomized placebo-controlled study of a TA supplement.


drusen; macular degeneration; micro-perimetry; senescence; telomerase activation; telomere

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