The Inflammasome and Novel Therapeutic Targets in AMD
Co-Principal InvestigatorsMatthew L Campbell, PhD Trinity College Dublin
Our proposed research will aim to identify and implicate a novel inflammatory pathway in the progression of AMD. This pathway is termed the "inflammasome" and the identification of novel therapeutic targets for AMD could pave the way for more robust and reliable therapies for both dry and wet AMD. Indeed, if the inflammasome were to be implicated in the development of AMD, the targets for potential therapies would be greatly improved. Moreover, low molecular weight inhibitors or indeed augmenters of inflammasome component activation could also be investigated for therapeutic use.
The body's immune system can ward off attacks by bacteria, viruses and other external threats. However, it also has systems in place to respond to internal threats, like the build-up of drusen—tiny waste deposits in the back of the eye—that happens in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In previous studies, Drs. Peter Humphries, Matthew Campbell, and colleagues have observed that drusen can trigger a localized immune response by a collection of proteins called the "inflammasome." In this project, they will determine why this occurs and what components of the inflammasome play key roles in causing AMD. This group will also screen a range of drugs that could tip the protein composition of drusen to a healthy ratio to better-treat AMD. Many of the drugs they will use in the screen already have regulatory approval for human use, which may accelerate their entry into human clinical trials.