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

wski's laboratory which identified mechanisms in the eye responsible for metabolizing vitamin A, an essential step in triggering the nerve signals sent to the brain to enable vision. Researchers determined that in healthy patients, this visual cycle operates rapidly. However, in older patients and those with AMD and Stargardt-like diseases, one of the critical biochemical reactions in the series that recycle vitamin A is slowed. This allows a toxic byproduct produced by the breakdown of vitamin A to accumulate, which damages the retina over time, probably contributing to the development of AMD and/or impairing vision.

The combined teams in Ophthalmology and Pharmacology are now looking for drugs that can target the mechanism that captures toxic vitamin A metabolites, to neutralize and counter the build-up of any visual cycle toxic byproduct, as a means of preventing or controlling retinal diseases. "Current treatments for AMD focus on management of the late stages of the disease. These studies could result in treatments at the earlier stages and save more vision as a result" says Dr. Lass.

In addition to testing existing FDA-approved drugs for their ability to reduce toxic substances within the retina, priorities for the NIH-funded research also include evaluating existing FDA-approved drugs as potential lead compounds for retinal diseases because these drugs have already been proven safe and effective in basic research and clinical studies for other indications. Researchers will likewise assess the ability of potential compounds to penetrate and remain in the eye without negatively affecting vision and they will explore and develop new drug delivery systems to achieve and maintain therapeutic drug concentrations in the eye.

"We have an idea as to what drugs could be most effective for our purposes," said Dr. Maeda, who relocated from Japan to the United States to work with Dr. Palczewski. She is the study's co-principal investigator and a g
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Contact: Jessica Studeny
jessica.studeny@case.edu
216-368-4692
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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