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Developing serum RNA-based diagnostics to advance clinical management of retinal degeneration.

 

What is the purpose of this study?

This study aims to identify specific RNA molecules within the blood serum that could help determine an individual's disease stage of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). To do this, we will profile the blood serum RNA composition and compare the results from individuals with various stages of AMD to those with no AMD. This will allow us to pinpoint the specific differences that are linked to changes is retinal health.

 

Who can volunteer?

We are looking for participants that have some aspect of AMD, independent of their specific AMD stage. Importantly, we are also looking for participants with no AMD. Please feel free to invite friends and family members to take part in this study.

 

What is your contribution as participant?

As a participant of this study, we ask you to get your retinal health examined and donate a blood sample. Both will be done by routine procedures by a qualified ophthalmologist and phlebotomist. We further ask participants for some demographic and health data as it is related to eye health through a questionnaire. This will help us understand whether blood serum composition is influenced by aspects independent of retinal health such as age, ethnicity, or activity levels.

 

How will we use the participants data?

Your donated blood sample will be used to separate the serum and determine its RNA composition using sequencing methods. Your eye health assessment will be used to determine whether you show signs of AMD or not, which will allow us to sort individuals into distinct AMD disease groups and healthy control. For each of these groups we will determine the serum RNA profile. Comparison between groups will then allow us to identify molecules that are significantly different between groups. As we will create groups, it will not be possible to identify a specific individual's data, protecting your privacy.

 

What are the benefits of this study?

We hope to develop sets of RNA signatures that specifically indicate the AMD disease stage compared to healthy individuals. We believe that this study will pave the way for the future development of blood-based diagnostic approaches without the need to visit specialist clinics. This will make early identification of changes in retinal health accessible to all, especially in remote or underprivileged communities. If successful, this approach can be expanded to other retinal and neurodegenerative diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and Alzheimer's disease.

 

You would like to take part?

If you are interested in volunteering for this study, please get in touch via email and we will send you additional information about how you can take part.

 

Study contacts:

Dr. Ulrike Schumann  - Email: ulrike.schumann@anu.edu.au

Dr. Riemke Aggio-Bruce  - Email: riemke.aggio-bruce@anu.edu.au

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