Bala Ambati, MD, PhD, MBA, has been selected to receive the prestigious 2013 Troutman-Véronneau Prize of $10,000 from the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology for his paper “Raver2 Preserves Corneal Avascularity by Inhibiting Splicing of the VEGF Decoy Receptor sFlt1.”
The stipend check, in the amount of $10,000, and a framed certificate will be presented to Dr. Ambati at the Opening Ceremony of the XXX Pan-American Congress and XXXVII Brazilian Congress of Ophthalmology, Wednesday, August 7, 2013, at RioCentro Convention Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Dr. Ambati will also present his paper during a session with other featured lecturers.
Dr. Ambati, who has the distinction of being the world's youngest person to graduate from medical school at 17, specializes in cornea transplants, cataract extraction, keratoprosthesis (artificial cornea transplants), LASIK, and other complex procedures of the cornea and anterior segment of the eye.
The John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah announced the results from a five-year study led by faculty member Balamurali K. Ambati, MD, PhD, into the cause of invasive blood vessel growth in age-related macular degeneration. The study has been published in eLife, a scientific journal designed to foster unique collaboration between funders and practitioners of research.
In order for the eye to process light correctly, photoreceptor cells need to remain free of blood vessel growth. In age-related macular degeneration, the normal process of demarcation is disrupted, and blood vessels disrupt vision. Using genomic and pharmacological methods, Ambati‘s team discovered that cells underlying and within the photoreceptor layer produce sFLT-1, an inhibitor protein that prevents the growth of new blood vessels, and that the levels of this protein are reduced in people with age-related macular degeneration. By demonstrating a key molecular basis of how blindness can occur in macular degeneration, this study opens windows into restoring normal blood-retinal vascular barriers that could result in therapies in the future that could be better than today’s regimen of monthly injections into the eye which only contain abnormal blood vessel growth.
Additionally, the study reports two new transgenic mouse models in which blood vessels form spontaneously underneath or within the photoreceptor layer at an early age, which should prove useful for further research. The study in its entirety can be read here: http://elife.elifesciences.org/content/2/e00324
“This has been an intensive collaborative study, and I have been able to work alongside some of the best minds in the field as we’ve explored the vascular zoning of the retina,” said Ambati. “I am honored that a publication as respected as eLife has published our findings, and I look forward to continuing to study the complexities of the eye and look for ways to advance new treatment options.
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