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Age-related macular degeneration research receives SEK 1.4 million grant from ARMEC Lindebergs Stiftelse

17 January 2020

Helder André, researcher at St. Erik Eye Hospital and Karolinska Institutet, is granted SEK 1.4 million from ARMEC Lindebergs Stiftelse for his research project ”Novel Gene Therapy Strategies for the Sustainable Treatment of Age-related Macular Degeneration”.

Helder André, what is the aim of the research project?

En ung man med mörkt hår och blå tröja.
Helder André. Photo: Johanna Hanno
”It is, from a molecular and cellular perspective, to identify and understand the events that lead to neovascular age-related macular degeneration, nAMD, and to use that knowledge in a translational bench-to-bedside outlook using gene therapy to prevent the development and/or progression of nAMD,” Helder André says.

What kind of research will you perform?

”In previous studies related to this project, we have identified that molecular hypoxia (low oxygen levels inside the cells) is responsible for progression of nAMD, and also identified molecules that can be used therapeutically to modulate the hypoxia responses in nAMD. 
These are molecules that can be used in gene therapy, and we have been designing strategies to allow for long-term and sustainable treatment of nAMD. The gene therapy is currently being tested in animal models, and we plan to continue into clinical trial in the future.”

In what way will this be of importance for nAMD patients?

“In the current nAMD treatments, patients are injected with anti-VEGF molecules. The treatment is very effective, but unfortunately transitory. Therefore, nAMD patients need to undergo repeated intraocular injections to maintain the VEGF levels low and prevent the disease. 
With our gene therapy constructs, we aim to address multiple factors simultaneously, and in a manner that the treatment will be active for a long time, hopefully providing the first sustainable treatment for nAMD patients.”

Text: Helena Mayer

Helder André research profile
Publication in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS)
Publication in Scientific Reports

29 January 2021