The role of the protein ABCC5 in diabetic macular oedema

Prof Heidi de Wet, University of Oxford - £25,000

This research project investigates the protein ABCC5 and its role in diabetic macular oedema (DMO).

What is the problem? 

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a complication of diabetes mellitus in which high blood glucose damages the retina. A major cause of vision loss in DR is diabetic macular oedema (DMO) in which blood vessels in the eye become leaky and cause swelling in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision. What causes DMO is not well understood, but oxidative stress is a very important factor.

What are they doing? 

ABCC5 is a protein responsible for transporting other molecules. It has been shown in genetic studies to be linked in some way to DMO, although we don’t yet understand how. This research will examine if ABCC5 is found in different levels in diabetic and non-diabetic people.

It’ll then look at how ABCC5 in the retina transports three substances: glutathione (an antioxidant), cGMP (a small molecule which helps prevent blood vessels leaking) and iron (a potentially damaging free radical).

Finally, the project will investigate the relative levels of ABCC5 in humans with and without DMO. The data we collect will help us apply for larger grants working towards treatments for DMO.

How can this help? 

The goal of this project is to establish the role ABCC5 plays in DMO. By understanding how this transport protein works, the development of DMO will become clearer. From here, more focused research will be able to find a cure.