The April Trust is funding a three year PhD studentship which is part of the Macular Society’s biomedical research programme to find a cure for macular degeneration.
Macular conditions cause more sight loss in the UK than any other eye disease – around 600,000 people are affected. The conditions are caused by diseases that destroy the macula, a tiny area at the back of the eye that is responsible for our central, detailed and colour vision. This sight loss can rob people of their independence, leaving them unable to drive, read or recognise their family.
The most common type of macular disease is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There are two main forms; dry and wet. There is no treatment for dry AMD and the treatment for wet is of limited benefit, slowing the progress of the disease rather than curing it. As our population ages there are expected to be 1.3 million people affected by AMD by 2050. Nearly 80,000 people are newly diagnosed each year.
Louis Scott began his PhD at Bristol University’s School of Clinical Sciences in October 2016 and his supervisors are Professor Andrew Dick and Dr Sophia Theodoropoulou.
The aim of my Macular Society studentship is to understand the role of an immunomodulatory protein in the context of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
After completing my Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, I was drawn to applying for this project because of previous laboratory experience working with the both innate immunity and cellular bioenergetics, and a long-standing fascination with understanding the molecular basis of degenerative disease.
Almost two years into my PhD, I have learnt many important biomolecular techniques, which will allow me to understand the underlying mechanism of AMD. Excitingly, data collected during this time has indicated that the immunomodulatory protein I’m studying confers a degree of protection to the retina under oxidative and metabolic stress, both well-known factors of AMD progression. I am currently in the process of preparing these results for publication in a high-impact journal.
I feel that this project, and funding from the Macular Society’s research programme has provided me the opportunity to develop myself as a successful researcher. But above all, I hope it may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for combating the development of AMD.
The team at Bristol will be reporting back at the end of the three year project.
Find out more: Macular Society