An interdisciplinary consortium of investigators from the Departments of Ophthalmology and Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin in collaboration with the Northwestern University Chemistry of Life Processes Institute, Biomedical Engineering, Urology, and Pediatrics, and the University of Nebraska Center for Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine, proposes to increase the pace at which basic science discoveries on disease mechanisms can be translated into therapies for exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a stated goal of the R24 National Eye Institute Translational Research Program on Therapy for Visual Disorders. This scientific partnership will employ its diverse scientific expertise to characterize and test potential therapies for exudative AMD in animal models by using a combination of cutting-edge physiological, chemical, analytical and imaging approaches. By screening novel peptides derived from endogenous inhibitors of angiogenesis for their ability to prevent neovascularization in animal models that mimic AMD, 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) determin whether the peptide mechanisms of action in the eye are through their mimicry of these natural inhibitors; (2) Produce and identify optimal new derivatives of benchmark peptides best suited to intravitreal treatment of AMD, where these are ranked by efficacy in CNV models, individually and in combination; (3) Select and tested the most active peptide(s) and their most slowly cleared formulations for efficacy in AMD models. The best candidate(s) will undergo GLP production and then safety testing, including retinal safety to select a suitable new peptide-based entity for clinical development; and (4) Establish preclinical basis for ultimate human treatment protocol for this entity through animal models of retinal disease examined via state-of-the art in vivo retinal imaging and histopathological analysis. Ultimately, the experimental result of these interrelated aims will guide us in developing more successful therapies for those afflicted by currently incurable blinding diseases with a neovascular component.
Identification of effective compounds that can arrest the disease state with minimal systemic side effects, and alleviate the necessity of repeated intravitreal delivery is vital for effective treatment of AMD. Utilizing a mechanistically relevant model of AMD, we have demonstrated rapid screening to test a broad set of novel peptide molecules. This proposal offers a compelling opportunity to attack exudative AMD.
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