Dr. Ali Hafezi-Moghadam and colleagues at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA have developed a noninvasive imaging technique to detect early stages of eye disease. These results are presented in the July 2010 issue of The American Journal of Pathology.
Uveitis, inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, is the most common form of eye disease, causing up to 10% of visual loss in the United States. Early detection of uveitis could lead to earlier treatment and prevent irreversible tissue damage and loss of sight.
In uveitis, white blood cells accumulate in affected regions of the eye. Therefore, Xie et al used fluorescently-labeled molecules (microspheres) that bind to P-selectin, an adhesion molecule that binds to white blood cells, to identify areas of the eye with uveitis. These microspheres mimicked white blood cell accumulation in an animal model of uveitis, and binding was decreased when these animals were treated with topical anti-inflammatory drugs, allowing for quantification of the immune response. As microvessel accumulation precedes clinical signs of disease, this noninvasive imaging technique may provide a model system for studying the early stages of anterior uveitis.
Dr. Hafezi-Moghadam's group concludes that "our imaging approach detects the earliest signs of disease, even prior to the occurrence of clinical symptoms, such as leakage, pain, or vision deterioration. Upon subclinical detection of molecular changes, effective treatments could be instituted to halt inflammation, before irreversible structural damage occurs. Besides being a powerful research tool, this versatile imaging approach has a high chance of being translated to the clinical realm and impacting the way medicine is practiced."
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