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Dr. Tianxiao Huan has been awarded a grant by Worcester Foundation, 2021

Date Posted: Tuesday, June 01, 2021

A Pilot Proteomic Study to Identify New Therapeutic Targets of Age-related Macular Degeneration.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of incurable central vision impairment and blindness worldwide, affecting more than 14% of Americans age 80 and older. There is an urgent need for the discovery of effective biomarkers and drug targets that prevent or delay advanced AMD.

In the awarded project, Tianxiao Huan, PhD, Assistant Professor, UMass Chan Medical School, will collaborate with Johanna Seddon, MD, ScM, Professor of Ophthalmology, Director of Retina and the Macular Degeneration Center of Excellence, who has been leading epidemiologic and genetic studies of AMD, and established the AMD registry and biorepository database, which is one of the largest AMD cohorts with unique characteristics including both standardized clinical phenotype data and longitudinal prospective data. Whole-genome genotyping data for more than 10,000 samples have been measured.

Dr. Huan plans to measure plasma and retinal proteomic profiling in association with AMD in this pilot study. She hypothesizes that leveraging genetic effects along with protein-AMD associations will provide compelling evidence for putatively causal relations of proteins to AMD which cannot be discovered by traditional differential expression analysis. The goal of this pilot study is to optimize methods for proteomic biomarkers and provide drug targets for AMD and leverage the findings to seek additional grant support from NIH and other sources to conduct a larger study. Results of this project will provide a better understanding of the pathogenesis of AMD and may reveal new therapeutic targets for prevention and treatment of AMD.

Tianxiao Huan, PhD, (right) and Dr. Johanna Seddon, MD (left)
Tianxiao Huan, PhD, (right) and Dr. Johanna Seddon, MD (left) in front of crystal structures of proteins displaying the team’s discoveries of rare genetic variants associated with AMD.