October 12, 2016

Imaging probe for retinal disease

An imaging probe developed at Vanderbilt detects retinal inflammation early and may allow therapeutic intervention to prevent blindness.

In retinal diseases including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, the growth of new blood vessels damages the retina and causes blindness. Inflammatory processes are thought to precede the blood vessel growth.

Vanderbilt scientist Jashim Uddin, Ph.D., and colleagues now demonstrate that the molecular imaging probe fluorocoxib A detects its target – the inflammatory enzyme COX-2 – in a mouse model of neovascular AMD. The investigators found that fluorocoxib A exhibited focal accumulation in neovascular lesions with minimal accumulation in nearby healthy tissue. They showed that the probe was selective for COX-2 in vitro and in vivo.

The findings, reported in the Journal of Biomedical Optics, suggest that fluorocoxib A, or its derivatives, can be used to image COX-2 expression in vivo as a biomarker for inflammation in retinal diseases.

Imaging approaches to detect inflammation before blood vessel growth occurs may enable early detection and therapeutic intervention to prevent blindness.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants CA128323, CA182850, CA136465, CA089450, EY023397).

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