Vascular abnormalities underlie many blinding ocular disorders, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic eye disease, and neovascularization of the cornea. Thus, scientists and clinicians of the Department of Ophthalmology have focused intense scrutiny on the underlying mechanisms of blood vessel development. Investigators in the Angiogenesis Laboratory discovered many mechanistic features of vascular biology, thus forming new paradigms for diseases that involve neovascularization (the abnormal formation of new blood vessels) or angiogenesis (the growth of existing vessels). Translational research performed by Angiogenesis Laboratory investigators resulted in verteporfin photodynamic therapy (Visudyne), the first pharmacologic therapy for AMD. In collaboration with other investigators from Harvard Medical School, they also identified the role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in vascular eye disease, forming the scientific basis of current anti-VEGF therapies for neovascular AMD, diabetic macular edema, and macular edema following retinal vein occlusion (RVO). The Angiogenesis Laboratory continues to improve existing therapies for vascular eye disease and develop novel therapeutic strategies. Areas of current research include the genetics of angiogenesis, growth factor biology, neuroprotection, and regenerative medicine.
Image: Fluorescein angiography (top panels) and choroidal flat mounts (bottom panels) after laser-induced choroidal neovascularization (CNV). An experimental gene-targeted therapy resulted in significantly lower-grade CNV (middle and right panels) than control (left). From: Salehi-Had et al. PLoS One. 2011 Apr 29;6(4):e18864.