An interdisciplinary consortium of investigators from the Departments of Pharmacology, Ophthalmology and Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati Drug Discovery Center, Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania, proposes "to increase the pace at which basic science discoveries on disease mechanisms can be translated into therapies for complex visual system disorders and disease", a stated goal of the R24 National Eye Institute (NEI) Translational Research Program on Therapy for Visual Disorders. This scientific partnership will employ its diverse scientific expertise to characterize and test potential therapies for retinal diseases in animal models by using a combination of cutting-edge physiological, chemical, analytical and imaging approaches. By screening Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs for their ability to prevent retinal pathology in animal models that mimic Stargardt's disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and retinitis pigmentosa (RP), we will accelerate drug development before testing in humans. Improving drug delivery to the eye as an integral part of these experiments will also be a high priority. Specific goals of this project are to: (1) Test FDA-approved drugs for their ability to reduce toxic levels of all-trans-retinal in the eye and prevent its condensation to harmful conjugates;(2) Evaluate analogues of FDA-approved drugs as potential lead compounds for treating retinal diseases by using approved compounds found effective and safe in animal model studies;(3) Assess the bioavailability and distribution of these agents to determine their ability to penetrate and remain in the eyes without affecting normal phototransduction and visual cycle reactions;and (4) Explore different modes of drug delivery and develop novel biodegradable polymers that provide therapeutic drug concentrations in the eyes. Ultimately, the experimental results of these interrelated aims will guide us in developing more successful therapies for patients affected by currently incurable blinding diseases.

Public Health Relevance

The number of persons who are legally blind in the USA exceeds 1.3 million with about 8-10 million aging persons who will be affected with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Utilizing a mechanistically relevant model of Stargardts disease, we have demonstrated rapid screening to potentially repurpose a broad set of FDA approved molecules. This proposal offers a compelling opportunity to attack this grievous riisfiasfi and nthsr cnnditinn.c;inditriinn AMD.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Resource-Related Research Projects (R24)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZEY1-VSN (10))
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Agarwal, Neeraj
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Case Western Reserve University
Schools of Medicine
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