Inflammation has been associated with the development and progression of severe retinal diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinal vein occlusion (RVO), characterized by impaired vision and even blindness. Considering that the prevalence of such pathologies is growing, it is of great importance to establish new pharmacological targets for the treatment of retinal diseases, to prevent vision loss and to improve the quality of the patient’s life. Therefore, the major research interests of our group is the investigation of the innate immune cells role in retinal disease, with emphasis in resident microglia and infiltrating myeloid-derived cells, as well as other inflammatory components such as cytokines and chemokines, and the complement cascade. To this aim, we employ experimental mouse models of choroidal neovascularization, retinal vein occlusion and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced retinal inflammation, together with genetically modified animals, in vivo imaging techniques and molecular and cellular approaches. The goal of our research is to gain a better understanding on the role of innate immune cells in retinal disease progression and to investigate potential therapeutic targets.
Retinal diseases like exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD), vein occlusions, diabetic macula edema or diabetic retinopathy are in the focus of attention in many recent clinical trials testing novel therapies. In these studies patients are examined by state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging devices, v.g. specialized stereo fundus photography, fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography as well as wide field imaging and optical coherence tomography angiography.
In order to obtain adequate number of patients, studies are conducted around the globe in tertiary centers as well as large practices (multicenter studies). The BPRC imaging group cooperates with these centers and clinics where patients are examined and treated and coordinates the image acquisition. A team of graders analyzes each image assessing clinical and imaging endpoints that are specific to the study. The graders perform the “grading”, the actual evaluation of the patient’s state according to defined criteria and protocols. This "grading" procedure is objective, independent and blinded. The goal of our group is to improve the scientific understanding of diseases and their treatment through efficient and reliable analysis of ocular images in clinical trials.