Project 14: Development of a novel biomarker cocktail for the diagnosis-screening of drug delivery and treatment efficacy in age-related ocular diseases.
The principal causes of visual impairment and blindness in the world population are age-related ocular diseases including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, United Nations estimates that the proportion of European population aged over 60 will be of 35% by 2050.
Consequently, there is a need for new diagnostic as well as on-treatment monitoring biomarkers of the aforementioned diseases that prevent and reduce the expected visual impairment (including blindness) burden. This project aims to address this challenge through the development of novels biomarker cocktails for the early diagnosis and effective monitoring of age-related ocular diseases. Research and experimental work will involve the study of the main molecular mechanisms underlying ageing process and that are present in all age-related diseases: oxidative stress and inflammation. Subsequently, we will choose potential biomarkers and we will design biomarkers cocktails. Finally, we will analyse the diagnostic and monitoring efficacy of such cocktails on animal models and patients of the mentioned age-related ocular diseases.
The project is transdisciplinary in nature, incorporating biochemical, medical, industrial and clinical expertise, as well as being highly relevant to patients and industry.
The main phases of the research can be summarised as follows:
- Identification of potential diagnostic and on-treatment monitoring biomarkers of glaucoma, AMD and diabetic retinopathy. Potential biomarkers will be selected through a bibliographic and experimental study of oxidative stress as well as inflammation pathways in ocular cells/structures.
- Design and evaluation of the diagnostic as well as monitoring efficacy of biomarkers cocktails. The efficacy of individual and combined biomarkers previously selected will be tested on animal models and patients of the mentioned diseases.