Gubitosi-Klug, Rose , MD, PhD
Inflammatory products as disease biomarkers in early diabetic retinopathy
General Research Subject: Type 1 Diabetes
Focus: Clinical Therapeutics/New Technology, Clinical Therapeutics/New Technology\Pharmacologic Treatment of Diabetes or its Complications, Complications, Complications\Ocular
Type of Grant: Clinical Scholars Award
Project Start Date: July 1, 2012
Project End Date: June 30, 2013
Diabetic retinopathy is a devastating complication of diabetes and a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. High blood sugar from diabetes damages blood vessels in the eye's retina, through a pathway that is not fully understood. Without adequate blood supply of oxygen, vision loss ensues. Damage to the retina is difficult to identify during routine eye examination until extensive damage has occurred. We aim to uncover early events in the disease process, which can be detected before damage becomes evident on the eye exam.
Previous research has shown that in mice, retinopathy starts with excessive inflammation in the retina. The enzyme 5-lipooxygenase (5LO), found in white blood cells, appears to be crucial for this inflammatory process. In the presence of high blood sugar, 5LO stimulates production of leukotrienes (potentiators of imflammation) and reactive oxygen species (ROS; agents causing retinal blood vessel damage). Leukotrienes and ROS can be detected from blood tests in mice before retinal damage becomes noticeable. Furthermore, in mice, inhibiting these products prevents deterioration of retinal blood vessels. We will measure leukotrienes and ROS in blood of diabetic humans and determine if they contribute to retinal blood vessel damage. We predict that these products can be used to develop simple clinical detection tools for early diabetic retinopathy in humans. Early detection of diabetic retinopathy will be important to identify patients that would benefit from aggressive therapy to prevent blindness. In the future, we also hope to use these products to develop new therapies against this devastating disease.
Mentor: Rose Gubitosi-Klug, MD, PhD Student: Marcella Luercio
What area of diabetes research does your project cover? What role will this particular project play in preventing, treating and/or curing diabetes?
This research project hopes to identify a simple blood test that will serve as a "marker" of early eye disease in patients with diabetes. Ultimately, this may help doctors identify and treat patients at high risk for development of eye disease much sooner than current eye exams allow. We hope to reduce the risk of vision loss and blindness in patients with diabetes.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
In the future, we hope to eliminate the risk of vision loss for patients living with diabetes through earlier detection and treatment.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
Like many researchers, I have a personal connection to diabetes and its complications. My own father has been affected by the many complications of this disease. I understand too well the toll it takes on the patient’s life and the lives of those who love them. This drives my passion to find a way to prevent these devastating complications.
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
I see that diabetes research efforts will remain diverse. There will always be a push for a cure, but will also include ways to improve the treatment of diabetes and to prevent the complications of diabetes.
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