Identifying Signals That Draw Immune Cells to Damaged Tissues in Age-Related Macular Degeneration
In age-related macular degeneration, the outer supporting layer at the back of the eye, called the choroid, is damaged. To protect the tissue, immune cells move from blood vessels into the choroid in response to damage. Kelly Mulfaul, PhD, and her colleagues predict that these cells sometimes may do more harm than good and be involved in the death of choroid cells. They plan to explore what draws these immune cells from the circulation into this tissue.
For their studies, the team will evaluate immune molecules that cells produce in response to known stressor molecules in age-related macular degeneration. Using adult stem cells that have been developed into immune cells, Dr. Mulfaul and her team will employ the gene-editing tool CRISPR to remove genes for specific immune proteins and see how this editing affects cell response to the stressors. They also will use other cutting-edge molecular biology tools to examine genetic responses of another type of immune cell in age-related macular degeneration donor tissue samples.
The resulting understanding of what draws these immune cells to the choroid at various stages of age-related macular degeneration will support the search for treatments based on the target stress signals.