A Newly Discovered Eye Immune Environment in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Principal Investigator

Mentors

  • Jonathan  Kipnis, PhD

    Jonathan Kipnis, PhD

Project Goals

The goal of this project is to explore a newly identified local immune environment in the eye and its potential role in age-related macular degeneration.

Project Summary

A newly discovered local immune environment in the eye offers a path to novel discoveries and treatment targets in age-related macular degeneration. James Walsh, MD, PhD, and his colleagues uncovered this immune environment of the choroid, a supportive layer for the retina at the back of the eye. Features of this immune environment suggest that its normal role is in adaptive immunity, mounting a response against invading pathogens. This reaction also carries the potential to inappropriately damage the eye. 

These features led the researchers to hypothesize involvement of choroidal adaptive immunity in age-related macular degeneration and take the first-ever look at potential associations.

For their studies, Dr. Walsh and his colleagues will map how age-related macular degeneration affects this immune environment, using lab models of the disease. They then will flip the study question and examine how changes in this immune environment affect loss of retinal pigment epithelium, the key tissue that sustains damage in age-related macular degeneration.

Their work is novel as a first look at this local immunity in the eye and its potential role in age-related macular degeneration. Uncovering immune targets specific to the eye in this disease could lead to rapid development of treatments affecting these targets.

Publications

First published on: September 25, 2023

Last modified on: April 15, 2024