Maintaining the health of the blood vessels in the macula

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Professor Majlinda Lako, Newcastle University - £249,998

This project is aiming to understanding how the cells that make up the blood vessels in the macula may become damaged in early age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Following this, the goal is to find drug targets that can maintain blood vessel health to prevent or slow AMD progression.

What is the problem?

We know that in AMD many cells in the macula are affected, become damaged and can die, leading to sight loss. We believe that the blood vessels that brings oxygen and nutrients to these cells play an important role in health and AMD development.

What are they doing?

The team involved are experts in creating retinal cells from patient’s own cells. Here they will grow cells from blood vessels, called choroid endothelial cells, and see whether these cells in patients with AMD are different from those without AMD. They will also test different drug targets to understand if certain drugs can maintain the health of these cells for longer.

How can this help?

We know very little about how these choroid endothelial cells are involved in AMD. This work hopes to help us understand their involvement in early AMD, and find treatments to keep the cells healthier for longer. The team has already found drug targets to maintain the health of other cells in the macula involved in AMD.