CCR3 biology and imaging applied to CNV in AMD
Detailed Non-Technical Summary
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a debilitating eye disease which mostly impacts people over age 55 years. It is the leading cause of blindness in the industrialized world. It comes in two varieties, "dry" AMD and "wet" AMD. What distinguishes the wet form from the dry form is the growth of new, leaky, blood vessels under central portion of the retina, which is responsible for your vision as it contains your photoreceptors. The wet form of AMD has a more rapid progression of visual decline which leads to difficulties with basic daily activities such as writing, reading and driving and will often lead to legal blindness. There are some medications currently in use that can slow or stop the progression of this form of the disease once it has become symptomatic, however none of these treatments can prevent the initial vision loss associated with this disease.
Recently our research group identified a molecule known as CCR3 which is located only on AMD related blood vessels. One of our goals is to determine the origin of these cells, using this marker, which contribute to the growth of these abnormal blood vessels in the eye so we can pick an optimal delivery mechanism for targeting these vessels. The other goal is to develop a minimally invasive novel imaging technique, in animal models of AMD, which would allow us to detect these blood vessels and diagnose and treat this disease before it causes any damage to the retina that would lead to vision loss.
Once this diagnostic and therapeutic treatment has been developed in animal models and its safety has been confirmed then it can be further tested for efficacy in clinical trials on people.