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BrightFocus Research Grants Funding
Grant Funding for Alzheimer's Research
Grant Funding for Macular Degeneration Research
Grant Funding for Glaucoma Research


Macular Degeneration Research
Completed Award

Dr. Ashwath Jayagopal

Ashwath Jayagopal, Ph.D.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt Eye Institute
Nashville, TN, United States

Title: In Vivo Molecular Imaging of Neovascular AMD
Non-Technical Title: Molecular Imaging of Wet AMD

Duration: July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2014
Award Type: Standard
Award Amount: $100,000


Dr. Ashwath Jayagopal and colleagues are focusing on developing nanoscale imaging agents capable of detecting AMD biomarkers of early choroidal neovascularization (the damaging invasion of blood vessels into the retina). With this imaging technique, clinicians would be able to better treat AMD patients through enhanced early detection, staging of disease, and monitoring of therapeutic response. Furthermore, this strategy could enable detailed imaging and target discovery in AMD preclinical and clinical studies.


The goal of this proposal is to demonstrate the usefulness of a nanotechnology-based approach for imaging critical biomarkers of early wet AMD.

In this approach, Dr. Ashwath Jayagopal and colleagues are using gold nanoparticles engineered to concurrently detect a number of AMD biomarkers. Once the nanoparticles detect their target, they emit a fluorescent light that can then be detected in the eye by a camera.  The team istesting whether this technique can detect biomarkers of wet AMD with high sensitivity, specificity, and safety in animals with wet AMD. Such a technology could enable improved detail in an eye doctor's examination, because it would provide a means for studying each individual patient's biomarker signatures for customized diagnosis and treatment.

This technique could introduce a new clinical approach for enhancing diagnostic capabilities in the management of AMD. Clinicians may be able to detect wet AMD at a point that enables therapies to be administered to the patient in a more timely fashion, better preserving vision. Furthermore, the approach could be used to monitor disease progression and determine whether a course of therapy is effective in treating the patient.

Investigator Biography:

Dr. Ashwath Jayagopal is an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute in Nashville, TN. His laboratory aims to develop molecularly-targeted imaging and therapeutic strategies for the clinical management of retinal diseases. A biomedical engineer by training, Jayagopal utilizes nanotechnology-based strategies to specifically interface imaging agents, drugs, and gene therapies with diseased cells in the retina. These approaches have the potential to improve early detection of retinal diseases and enhance therapeutic efficacy.