Control of New Blood Vessel Growth in Macular Degeneration

Justine Smith, MD, PhD
Oregon Health and Science University (Portland, OR)
Year Awarded:
2008
Grant Duration:
April 1, 2008 to June 29, 2010
Disease:
Macular Degeneration
Award Amount:
$100,000
Grant Reference ID:
M2008007
Award Type:
Standard
Award Region:
US Northwestern
Justine Smith, MD, PhD

Novel Molecular Regulators of Choroidal Neovascularization in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Summary

This research group has developed a technique for isolation of endothelial cells of the choroid from human eyes that are supplied by the Lions Eye Bank of Oregon. In this project, they will study three molecules that are produced at high levels in tissues related to AMD. They will test the ability of these molecules to control the formation of new blood vessels.

Details

Age-related macular degeneration or AMD - the leading cause of blindness in adults aged over 60 years - is characterized by damage to the portion of the retina responsible for reading vision. One key player in the development of AMD is the endothelial cell. Endothelial cells line the blood vessels of the body. In the most severe form of AMD, endothelial cells grow from the tissue adjacent to the retina, which is known as the choroid, into the retina. The new blood vessels formed by these choroidal endothelial cells leak blood cells and proteins into the retina. Recently it has been realized that endothelial cells in different parts of the body differ in terms of the molecules they contain. Work from my laboratory has showed that choroidal endothelial cells have a unique molecular composition. This observation implies that it should be possible to develop drugs against molecules that are uniquely expressed in choroidal endothelial cells for treating severe AMD. In this project, we will study three molecules that are produced at high levels by choroidal endothelial cells. We will test the ability of these molecules to control the formation of blood vessels by choroidal endothelial cells in a culture dish. Endothelial cells that line the blood vessels are key players in the development of AMD. In the most severe form of AMD, endothelial cells grow from the tissue adjacent to the retina (choroid), into the retina. The new blood vessels formed by these choroidal endothelial cells leak blood cells and proteins into the retina. Choroidal endothelial cells have a unique molecular composition, and it may be possible to develop drugs against molecules in these cells to treat severe AMD. This study will focus on three molecules produced at high levels by choroidal endothelial cells. It may determine whether manipulating the levels of these molecules could be used therapeutically in patients with AMD.
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