High Content Screen for RPE Cell Protective Compounds

Donald Zack, MD, PhD Wilmer Eye Institute

Co-Principal Investigators

Cindy J Berlinicke, PhD Johns Hopkins University


One of the early changes associated with dry AMD is alteration and damage of the retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells, the cells responsible for maintaining the delicate environment necessary to sustain the health and function of photoreceptors. Treatment strategies that promote RPE integrity and function offer great promise, but no such treatments have yet been shown to be effective. As a first step towards developing such a strategy, we propose to develop and perform experiments that will allow us to identify factors that can protect RPE cells from AMD-associated stress.

Project Details

Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells are essential for normal retinal function, being responsible for maintaining the delicate balance between waste removal and nutrient delivery that is necessary to sustain the health and function of photoreceptors. Dysfunction and death of RPE cells plays an important role in the etiology of age‐related macular degeneration (AMD). There are no known drugs that effectively prevent this AMD‐associated RPE dysfunction and cell death. Drs. Donald Zack, Cindy Berlinicke, and colleagues propose to identify small molecules, potential drugs that can promote the health and survival of RPE cells. These researchers will look for these protective small molecule drugs by screening thousands of candidates with an automated, robotic microscope system. The identity of effective candidates could give clues to understanding what causes AMD and also could provide candidate molecules that could be developed into novel drug treatments for AMD.