Miguel Seabra (left) and Pedro Antas (right)
Researchers Miguel Seabra and Pedro Antas, from the Molecular Mechanisms of Disease Lab at CEDOC, won in May the prize awarded by the prestigious British organization Fight For Sight for the project "Mechanisms of Cell Death in Choroideremia", in collaboration with Clare Futter’s group from the Institute of Ophthalmology of University College in London. Read what the winners had to say about this prize and the research it will allow:
1. What is the main discovery of this work and why is it important?
Choroideremia (CHM) is a disease that causes progressive vision loss leading to complete loss of vision in mid-life. Our lab was the first lab developing a potentially curative gene therapy in the retina of patients with CHM. However, gene therapy will not be beneficial once extensive degeneration has taken place in the retina, more precisely in a pigmented layer of cells, the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). In this context, the search for complementary therapies is thus of extreme importance.
We believe that identifying the contribution of the different cell death pathways to the loss of RPE in CHM will lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies for CHM patients. Here, we will use RPE cells derived from CHM patients to examine the molecular processes underlying the cell death mechanisms involved in CHM. Dissecting the sequence of events of these pathogenic pathways is likely to identify new biomarkers and new therapeutic targets for CHM.
2. What does this award mean to you/research team?
This is very prestigious award from an important organization from UK, Fight for Sight. This award will support our research during a year and will allow us to be more competitive for future grant applications.
3. What questions will you pursue next and how will this award support
These new findings in our project will guide future preclinical and clinical testing of therapeutic strategies to overcome the cellular processes that lead to RPE cell death in CHM patients. Eventually, we wish to generate alternative and/or complementary therapies to gene therapy that delay the degenerative process in CHM.The Fight for Sight award will definitely help us support our efforts in this line of research.