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Case Western Reserve receives $10M to study retinal disease, develop new treatments
Date:12/28/2010

n aging individuals show signs of developing AMD, an incurable eye disease characterized by damage to the retina and the loss of central daylight vision.

"The research being funded by the NIH is critical to availing patients of new, more effective treatments, particularly for diseases like AMD, for which there is currently no cure," says Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD, John H. Hord Professor, chair of the Department of Pharmacology, and principal investigator and director of the research funded by the new NEI grant. "Our goal is to develop new drugs based on the screening of FDA-approved drugs to evaluate their effectiveness in treating retinal diseases."

Researchers will employ a range of scientific expertise and state-of-the-art physiological, chemical and analytical imaging technologies to test potential retinal disease therapies in basic research models. A non-invasive imaging technology developed at Case Western Reserve by Dr. Palczewski's research group will facilitate monitoring of the retina to detect molecular changes, defects, or harmful toxins in the retina.

FDA-approved drugs will be screened for their potential application in research models engineered to mimic conditions such as AMD, Stargardt's disease (a form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration) and retinitis pigmentosa (a group of inherited retinal disorders characterized by progressive peripheral vision loss). The drug-screening process is designed to accelerate the process of drug development before clinical testing in humans.

Dr. Palczewski is working with researcher Akiko Maeda, MD, PhD, senior instructor in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Pharmacology; and Zheng-Rong Lu, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering; to hone in on existing drugs with chemical properties and initial research results that suggest they may provide a basis for developing new drugs for treating retinal diseases like AMD.

The research builds upon previous work in Dr. Palcze
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Contact: Jessica Studeny
jessica.studeny@case.edu
216-368-4692
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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