Using a systems medicine approach, EYE-RISK aims at identifying risk factors, molecular mechanisms and therapeutic approaches for the complex eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of blindness in European countries. The disease is characterized by the degeneration of the central part of the retina called macula. This part is needed for central vision and is crucial for tasks such as reading, driving, recognition of faces and color vision. The frequency of AMD in the general population increases sharply after an age of 65 years up to a prevalence of 10% after an age of 80 years. The risk to develop AMD is jointly determined by age, lifestyle and also by the individual genetic background. At the current state, AMD is an incurable disease.
The EYE-RISK project utilizes epidemiological data describing clinical phenotype, molecular genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, and in-depth retinal imaging derived from existing longitudinal European epidemiological cohorts and biobanks to provide three major insights needed for long-lasting prevention and therapy of AMD:
- Development of robust algorithms utilizing genetic and non-genetic risk factors to identify personalized risks of developing advanced wet and dry AMD.
- Identification of novel biomarkers for further stratification of disease risks.
New insights from 1) and 2) will be used to elaborate preventive medical recommendations for high-risk subgroups of AMD patients.
- Identification of molecular drivers / biological pathways relevant for onset and progression of advanced AMD that will be used to identify and validate new therapeutic targets.
- Emily Y. Chew
Deputy Clinical Director at the National Eye Institute, Bethesda, USA
- Christina Fasser
President of Retina International, Zurich, Switzerland
- Brian Mansfield
Deputy Chief Research Officer at Foundation Fighting Blindness, Baltimore, USA
- Hendrik Scholl
Professor for Ophthalmology, Head of Eye Clinic, Universitätsspital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
- Alan Wright
Professor for Ophthalmology, University of Edinburgh, UK