University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Determining Allelic Differences and Cellular Mechanisms in a Novel Model of AMD

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The Gould laboratory uses mouse genetic models to understand the basic mechanisms that underlie Age–Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of age–related vision loss in developed nations and the prevalence is expected to dramatically increase as the population ages and as life–spans increase. Currently, there are 10 million people in the United States alone that suffer vision loss from AMD. By using mouse genetic models we are discovering the cellular events that occur as an eye progresses from a normal state to the disease state. The long–term goals are to exploit these cellular processes with therapeutics targeted at preventing or delaying vision loss. Support from the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation has been instrumental in this research endeavor as we test to what extent mis–folded mutant proteins might trigger oxidative damage to the retina and trigger AMD. Protein mis–folding and oxidative stress are common themes among other neurodegenerative diseases and diseases of aging which suggests that AMD might benefit from similar therapeutic approaches.