A Novel Method to Treat Both Wet and Dry Forms of AMD

Yingbin Fu, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX)
Year Awarded:
2018
Grant Duration:
July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020
Disease:
Macular Degeneration
Award Amount:
$160,000
Grant Reference ID:
M2018142
Award Type:
Standard
Award Region:
US Southwestern

This grant is made possible by support from The Helen Juanita Reed Award for Macular Degeneration Research.

Yingbin Fu, PhD

A Novel Treatment Strategy to Target the Underlying Causes of Both the Wet and Dry Forms of AMD

Summary

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that blurs the sharp, central vision you need for everyday activities, such as seeing faces, reading, sewing, and driving. Advanced AMD can be classified into the dry form (gradual breakdown of the light-sensitive cells in the macula) and the wet form (leaky blood vessels growing under the retina). The current treatment for wet AMD is suboptimal, while there is no treatment available for dry AMD. We propose to develop a novel and effective treatment for both the wet and dry forms of AMD by using a protein called AIBP (apolipoprotein A-I binding protein).

Details

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can be classified into the wet and the dry form. The dry form accounts for 85 percent of all AMD and is characterized by the accumulation of drusen (lipid-rich cellular debris, or “garbage”) beneath the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE), the layer of cells that nourishes and supports the light-sensing photoreceptors. Wet AMD can be treated by regular injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) reagents, whereas no effective treatments are available for dry AMD. Even for the wet form, multiple clinical trials have shown that long-term visual outcomes of anti-VEGF monotherapy are suboptimal. Thus, there is a pressing need to develop effective treatment for both forms of AMD. The objective of this project is to develop a highly innovative and effective treatment strategy to target the underlying causes of both the wet and dry forms of AMD. Specifically, we plan to develop novel agents that are capable of inhibiting the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye for treating wet AMD, and reducing drusen formation for treating the AMD. This project is highly innovative because it introduces a new concept in AMD treatment by targeting the causes of both the wet and dry AMD simultaneously. Currently, no other single treatment can achieve this. This research has the potential to guide the development of a new generation of therapy for AMD.

About the Researcher

Dr. Yingbin Fu received his PhD from Michigan State University. He then worked at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of Dr. King-Wai Yau. Currently, he is the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology and an associate professor in the Cullen Eye Institute at the Baylor College of Medicine.  His main research interest is to study the biological mechanisms underlying various types of retinal degeneration, such as AMD, and to develop innovative treatment strategies.

Personal Story

Many times when I attended a neighborhood gathering, I quickly became the center of the conversation. This is not because I am a PhD, but because I am a researcher in an eye institute. The conversation is centered on macular degeneration. Folks will ask me, "My aunt has dry macular degeneration, what do you recommend to slow this down? Are there any new treatments? How can I prevent this?” Sadly, the only thing I can recommend is the AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study, conducted by the National Eye Institute) formulation, a nutritional supplement, to reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD. As a researcher, I feel that there is an urgent unmet need to develop effective treatments for AMD. The generous support by donors of the BrightFocus Foundation provides a critical seed grant for AMD researchers like me to develop innovative treatments for AMD for many seniors in my neighborhood, in the USA, and throughout the world.

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