The project led by Professor Miguel Seabra, from NMS Research, had funding of around 1 million euros from "la Caixa" foundation to investigate macular degeneration, a degenerative disease of the retina.
The funding awarded to the Molecular Mechanisms of Disease group, from NMS Research and part of the iNOVA4Health research unit and LS4Future associate lab, will be for the development of the project "A new treatment to prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD)", in collaboration with Antonio Cuadrado from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and will also have Sandra Tenreiro's group at NMS as part of the team.
AMD is a degenerative disease of the macula that causes a progressive impairment of the central vision and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries and is currently incurable. The disease is caused by the death of a specific type of cell named photoreceptors, in the area of the retina responsible for high-resolution vision, the macula. The researchers have found strong new evidence that the NRF2 protein plays a key role in macula protection, preventing these cells from dying during AMD.
Accordingly, in this "la Caixa" financed project they will explore the protective role that the NRF2 protein may play in AMD before it is irreversible and causes permanent damage. Laboratory-based studies will aim at selecting the best molecule that activates NRF2 and protects the retina. These studies will be complemented by a clinical pilot observational study in patients, who are prescribed an NRF2-activating drug already in clinical use. The results of this study could pave the way towards the development of a much-sought after AMD preventive treatment, as well as other chronic age-related diseases.
This project was part of the fifth edition of the CaixaResearch Health Research 2022 contest, in collaboration with BPI, funding 33 new biomedical research projects. 13 of them are Portuguese, including two for Universidade NOVA de Lisboa.
CaixaResearch supports excellent basic, clinical and translational research initiatives with a strong impact on health challenges in the area of cardiovascular, infectious and oncological diseases, and neurosciences, in addition to projects that give rise to facilitating technologies in these areas.
Know more about this call on "la Caixa" website and featured in jornal Público.
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