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Scripps Research awarded $17 million for adult stem cell use to treat eye diseases

"We're extremely excited about this grant and by the confidence peer review and the NEI has placed in our project," said the initiatives principal investigator Martin Friedlander, a professor at Scripps Research and retina specialist at Scripps Clinic. "Our goal in the next five years is to develop this new approach to treating retinal diseases to the point it can be tested in the clinic. The project addresses a large unmet medical need-developing new treatments for patients who are losing their sight due to neovascular and retinal degenerative diseases."

Under the auspices of the new grant, titled "Adult Stem Cells for Therapy of Visual Disorders," the Friedlander lab will work with six other laboratory groups at Scripps Research-those of Laura Crisa, Glen Nemerow, Wolfram Ruf, Gary Siuzdak, Bruce Torbett, and William Balch. Together, this team will conduct the extensive and detailed pre-clinical work necessary for moving the potential therapy forward. The project will also explore novel technologies and approaches to understanding and developing treatments for retinal vascular and degenerative diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, age related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinitis pigmentosa.

A Promising New Approach

A leading cause of vision loss involves the abnormal formation of new blood vessels, a process called "neovascularization." In total, 2 to 3 million Americans suffer vision loss from neovascular eye disease. These include elderly patients with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), patients with diabetes who suffer from diabetic retinopathy (DR), and infants born with a condition called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).

The problem of abnormal vasculature in the eye develops in response to "ischemia" (decreased blood flow and oxygen delivery due to abnormalities in small blood vessels as seen in diabetes and ROP) and inflammation (usually due to the abnormal deposition of angiogenic protei
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Contact: Keith McKeown
kmckeown@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
30-May-2007


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