Developing alternative treatment method for patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Dr Raida Al Kassas
  • Institute: Liverpool John Moores University
  • Region: North West
  • Start date: May 2022
  • End Date: April 2024
  • Priority: Treatment
  • Eye Category: AMD
Brief Lay background

Neovascular, or “wet” age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of vision loss. It is estimated that 39,800 UK citizens develop wet AMD in each year.

The macula is in the centre of the retina, which is the layer that covers the inside of the eye. The macula provides our central vision that is used for tasks like reading and recognising faces. Wet AMD is a disease where new, abnormal blood vessels grow through the macula and leak fluid.

The treatment for wet AMD is injections of drug into the eye. These injections reduce the leakage. The injections are usually successful in preserving vision but they have to be given regularly, sometimes every month.

It’s also expensive to the NHS, and requires frequent visits to the hospital due to infection. Also, some patients continue to lose vision, despite the injections.

What problem/knowledge gap does it help address

Very recently, functional nanoparticles have gained great interest. They can be developed to specifically locate a disease cell via a known protein target.

The researchers aim to exploit this binding property to target drugs to the area of the eye where it is required.

Aim of the research project

This project will help generate proof-of-concept reserach data that can be used to secure more funding.

Key procedures/objectives
  1. Prepare nanoparticles.
  2. Identify the ability of the drug to enter the cell and kill damaged cells.
Potential impact on people with sight loss

This is important, as the treatment burden of the anti-VEGF injection adversely affects the quality of lives of nAMD patients. This alternative approach would minimise the treatment load, an important consideration when developing treatments for patients with long-term conditions like nAMD, who require multiple therapies. We also anticipate that the nanoparticles will protect the drug in the delivery process.

The nanoparticles are expected to gradually release the drug and undergo slow degradation. This will prolong their effect in nAMD patients, reducing the frequency of injections, reducing the cost of the treatment, and saving the NHS money.