Retinal vascular disease
Research programmes are focused upon developing and evaluating new treatments for common retinal conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy.
- Avastin as a treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (Professor Paul Bishop)
Recently, it has been shown that a drug called ranibizumab (Lucentis) is a very effective treatment for neovascular or 'wet' AMD.
This drug is delivered by frequent (typically, every two months) injections into the vitreous humour of the eye. Because of the need for repeated administration and the prevalence of this condition (it causes 50% of blind registrations in the UK) the cost to the health service of delivering this treatment is going to be very high.
Bevacizumab (Avastin) is a very similar drug that was originally developed to treat cancer. We have initiated a large clinical trial to investigate the efficacy of Avastin and to compare two different treatment regimes.
- Opticin (Professor Paul Bishop)
Our research group discovered a novel glycoprotein in the vitreous humour of the eye that we called opticin.
Recently, we have shown that opticin has potent anti-angiogenic properties and have demonstrated an integrin-based mechanism. We are now, in collaboration with Professor Ian Stratford, undertaking preclinical studies (funded by Cancer Research Technology and the Breast Cancer Campaign) to determine whether opticin, because of its anti-angiogenic properties, can be developed into a therapeutic to treat cancer.
In addition, we are collaborating with Oxford Biomedica to determine whether opticin, when delivered using a gene therapy strategy, is likely to be an effective treatment for neovascular AMD.
- Therapeutics to prevent age-related macular degeneration (Professor Paul Bishop and Professor Tony Day)
In 2005, seminal papers were published showing that the Y402H polymorphism in complement factor H (CFH) results in a strong predisposition to AMD. We are investigating how this single amino acid alteration in the CFH protein alters its interactions with its natural ligands.
In addition, we are developing techniques for high-throughput screening of molecules that differentially bind these two forms as we believe that such molecules could provide a basis for drug discovery, with the aim of developing a therapeutic that prevents AMD in genetically susceptible individuals. This work is now funded by the Macular Disease Society.