Characterization of Circulating Antibodies Specific to AMD

Patrick Daugherty, PhD
University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara , CA)
Year Awarded:
Grant Duration:
July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018
Macular Degeneration
Award Amount:
Grant Reference ID:
Award Type:
Award Region:
US Southwestern
Patrick Daugherty, PhD

Antibody Specificity Repertoire Characterization in AMD


The immune system is involved in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The objective of this project is to identify molecular targets of the immune response in AMD. The large set of antibodies circulating in blood will be comprehensively analyzed to identify antibodies that occur in AMD, and that will allow us to identify organisms from the environment that produce antibodies present in individuals with AMD.


The objective of this study is to characterize the changes in the immune response as individuals develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The end result of this effort will be to develop diagnostics for early detection. To accomplish this, we will identify collections of peptides that bind to antibodies in the blood of subjects with AMD, but not to those from unaffected controls. The molecular fingerprints of these antibodies will be determined in high resolution using modern DNA sequencing and computational analysis. This process will reveal a set of individual antibody species, defined by peptides they bind to, that occur exclusively or primarily in AMD. Our second goal is to maximize the resolution of antibody fingerprints. To accomplish this we will apply molecular evolution methods to the peptides that bind most exclusively to antibodies from AMD subjects. Successful completion of this objective will reveal individual peptide sequences that bind to antibodies in a maximal number of AMD subjects, but not to those in healthy controls, thereby providing potential reagents to develop a diagnostic test. Our final objective for this project is to identify the antigens that are bound by the antibodies that occur in AMD. These antigens can be from proteins within the human body (ie, autoantigens) or could potentially be from environmental organisms. We will attempt to identify the antigens using a combination of bioinformatic computational methods and biochemical assays.

Completion of this research study will reveal whether particular antibodies occur uniquely in individuals with AMD, and whether these antibodies change over time as diseases progresses. Second, this study may result in a panel of peptides that enables diagnosis of AMD in a blood test, or prediction of disease progression to vision loss and neovascularization. Finally, our study may identify the targets of the antibody response in AMD, and could reveal a potential role for antibodies in the pathogenesis of AMD.

About the Researcher

Patrick Daugherty, PhD, is a professor of chemical engineering, and biomolecular science and engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He received his B.S. degree in chemical engineering from University of Minnesota in 1993, and his PhD degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1999. He was a senior research fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle during 1999-2001, before joining the chemical engineering faculty at UCSB in 2001. He is the recipient of a National Sciences Foundation Career Award (2005), Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award (2006), and ACS Young Investigator Award from the Division of Biochemical Technology (2007). Daugherty has founded multiple medical biotechnology companies, including CytomX Therapeutics (South San Francisco, CA) and Serimmune Inc (Santa Barbara, CA). In 2011, he was elected to the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Professor Daugherty’s research is focused on the study and detailed characterization of the composition and function of the human antibody repertoire.

Personal Story

We are deeply grateful for the generous support of BrightFocus Foundation donors, and are certain that their contributions are accelerating improvements to the standard of care for AMD and other age-related diseases. 

Don't miss out.
Receive research updates, inspiring stories, and expert advice
Please enter your first name.
Please enter your last name.
Keep me informed about: *
Please select at least one.
You must select at least one disease category.