Allison Elliott-Shannon

Research Represents Major Breakthrough in Macular Degeneration

Published: Apr 26, 2012

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 26 , 2012) — University of Kentucky researchers, led by Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, have made a major breakthrough in the “dry” form of age-related macular degeneration known as geographic atrophy (GA). GA is an untreatable condition that causes blindness in millions of individuals due to death of retinal pigmented epithelial cells. The paper, "DICER1 loss and Alu RNA Induce Age-Related Macular Degeneration via the NLRP3 Inflammasome and MyD88," was published in the April 26 online edition of the premier journal Cell.

 

Ambati, professor of physiology, and professor and vice chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences at UK, is a leader in the field of macular degeneration research. Previous research from the Ambati laboratory published in the journal Nature showed that in human eyes with geographic atrophy there is a deficiency of the enzyme DICER1, leading to accumulation of toxic Alu RNA molecules in the retinal pigmented epithelium. The Cell paper shows that when these RNAs build up in the eye they trigger activation of an immune complex known as the NLRP3 inflammasome. In turn, this leads to the production of a molecule known as IL-18, which causes death of retinal pigmented epithelial cells and vision loss by activating a critical protein known as MyD88.

 

Importantly, Ambati and colleagues found evidence that activity of the inflammasome, IL-18, and MyD88 were all increased in human eyes with GA. They then showed that blocking any of these components could prevent retinal degeneration in multiple disease models. The researchers are excited that blocking these pathways could herald a new potential therapy for GA, for which there is no approved treatment.

 

Ambati is working with iVeena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Salt Lake City to commercialize therapies for geographic atrophy. iVeena can be contacted at info@i-veena.com.

 

Authors on the paper include Ambati as well as Valeria Tarallo, Yoshio Hirano, Bradley D. Gelfand, Sami Dridi, Nagaraj Kerur, Younghee Kim, Won Gil Cho, Hiroki Kaneko, Benjamin J. Fowler, Sasha Bogdonaovich, Romulo J.C. Albuquerque, Judi Z. Baffi and Mark E. Kleinman, all of the UK Department of Opthalmology and Visual Science. Additional authors include: William W. Hauswirth and Vince A. Chiodo of the University of Florida; Jennifer F. Kugel, James A. Goodrich and Steven L. Ponicsan of the University of Colorado; Gautaum Chaudhuri of Meharry Medical College; Michael P. Murphy of the MRC Mitochondrial biology Unit; Joshua L. Dunaief of the University of Pennsylvania; Balamurali K. Ambati of the University of Utah and the Veterans Affairs Salt Lake City Healthcare System; Yuichiro Ogura of the Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Japan; Jae Wook Yoo and Dong-ki Lee of Sungkyunkwan University, Korea; Patrick Provost of Université Laval, Quebec; David R. Hinton of the University of Southern California; and Gabriel Nunez of the University of Michigan Medical School.

 

Ambati is also the Dr. E. Vernon and Eloise C. Smith Endowed Chair in Macular Degeneration Research.

 

This research was supported by the National Eye Institute, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and Research to Prevent Blindness.

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Elliott, allison.elliott@uky.edu

 

 

hazel-eyes.jpg
February
1
 
Sun
2
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Mon
3
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Tue
4
LNFS Presents: Groundhog Day
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Massage on the Go #1
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Internship Info Session
Wed
5
LNFS Presents: Interstellar
LNFS Presents: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Thu
6
LNFS Presents: Songcatcher
LNFS Presents: Wall-E
Cultural Coffee Hour
Fri
7
 
Sat
8
 
Sun
9
 
Mon
10
Employer Showcase: Day 1 Technical Career Fair
Job Club: Successful Telephone Interview/Screening Tips and How to Choose & Prep your Professional References
Tue
11
LNFS Presents: Caddyshack
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Employer Showcase: Day 2 Non-Technical Career Fair
Last Day to Drop a Course with 50% Refund
Wildcat Wednesday
#TrendingTopics: Space Exploration
Wed
12
LNFS Presents: Taxi Driver
LNFS Presents: Gone Girl
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Legal Planning
Thu
13
LNFS Presents: The Great Gatsby
Cultural Coffee Hour
Fri
14
 
Sat
15
 
Sun
16
 
Mon
17
LNFS Presents: Dear White People
Tue
18
Caregiver Support Group
LNFS Presents: Wreck-It Ralph
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Wed
19
LNFS Presents: Nightcrawler
LNFS Presents: Ip Man
Celebration at UK vs Texas A & M Women’s Basketball Game, Memorial Coliseum
Thu
20
LNFS Presents: The Bang Bang Club
Cultural Coffee Hour
Fri
21
Celebration at UK vs Auburn Men’s Basketball Game
Sat
22
 
Sun
23
Convocation
Mon
24
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Job Club: Interview Strategies from the Other Side of the Table
Tue
25
LNFS Presents: Inception
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Fellows Founders Week Luncheon
Wed
26
LNFS Presents: The Birds
LNFS Presents: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1
Guest Lecture: President Emeritus Mark Yudof of the University of California – Berkley
Thu
27
LNFS Presents: Superbad
LNFS Presents: Little Shop of Horrors
Cultural Coffee Hour
The Blue Tie Bash
Fri
28
 
Sat

Mon, 02/02/2015

Tue, 02/03/2015

Repeats every week until Thu Apr 30 2015 except Wed Mar 18 2015.
Wed, 02/04/2015

Reset Page