Proteomics of the Progression of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
There is currently no preventative treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness among the elderly in the U.S. The development of therapeutic interventions will require an understanding of the molecular events associated with this disease. In this project, Dr. Ferrington is testing the hypothesis that there is a subset of proteins that are uniquely altered in patients with AMD. She also hypothesizes that the progression of AMD involves an evolution of protein changes that are manifested in clinically distinct features. Her team is working to clinically and biochemically evaluate the macular region of the neural retina and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) from human donor eyes (from donors aged 65 to 75 years). The selected tissues will include those exhibiting no AMD, those with retinal features that indicate of the beginning of AMD, and those showing the later stages of the disease. The goals of this research are to evaluate and classify retinal degeneration in donor eyes through biochemical analysis, and to identify alterations in retinal proteins using proteomic analysis. Using donor retinas at clinically defined stages of AMD should aid in distinguishing patterns of protein changes that occur with the progression of the disease. Also, identifying changes in proteins that are uniquely altered in the disease pathology will provide valuable insights into the mechanism of the disease process, and may provide new targets for treatment.