Genetic Studies Of A Nonhuman Primate Model For Age-Related Maculopathy

Peter Francis, MD, PhD Oregon Health and Science University

Co-Principal Investigators

Martha Neuringer, PhD Oregon Health and Science University


More complete understanding of the genetic risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is essential to the development of better treatments that are optimized for the individual. Nonhuman primates provide a uniquely useful model for AMD because they have a macula, develop age-related maculopathy, and share with humans some of the same genetic risk factors for this disease. We propose to further define genetic factors in macular disease in a large monkey colony so that these animals can be used most effectively to test new therapies and prevention strategies.

Project Details

Promising new treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are being developed, but we need to know if they are safe and effective before trying them on human patients. Animals are very valuable for this purpose, and monkeys are potentially the best model for AMD because they have the same kind of eye structure, and older monkeys develop AMD just like humans do. We have a unique, large colony of monkeys with many families that are prone to AMD, and we know that some of the same genes are involved in both their disease and human AMD. If we understand the genetics of their disease better and can define each monkey's genetic profile, these animals can be used to accurately test treatments and ways to prevent the disease, so that better treatments can be made available to patients.

The specific aims of the project are:

1) To examine monkeys with AMD for gene differences in a particular genetic region that is associated with risk for AMD in human patients.

2) To search for changes in six other genes that seem to be related to human AMD to see if they are linked to the risk of AMD in monkeys.

3) To find other new genes in monkeys that are associated with AMD, and also with a type of macular disease that starts early in life.