Project DetailsRetinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells support the light‐detecting photoreceptor cells by recycling and removing waste products. If RPE cells are unhealthy, then this waste can build‐up and damage the retina. Inflammation is an important part of the AMD disease process, and RPE cells have their own special type of proteins—called the “inflammasome”—to monitor and determine if the RPE are working properly. In fact, if this RPE waste recycling and removal process isn't functioning properly, the inflammasome sends out signals for the immune system to swoop in and kill the malfunctioning RPE cells. Dr. Ksander and collaborators have discovered a new risk gene—called NALP3— that is expressed in retinal cells and is suspected to be important in triggering AMD via the inflammasome. These researchers will determine whether this gene is involved in the death of RPE cells and, if so, whether it will be a new target for treatment of AMD.