King's PhD student Janosch Heller won the research poster competition at The Cambridge Neuroscience Seminar on 17 March.
Janosch's poster showed his work into finding a cure for age-related macular degeneration. This condition occurs when layers of tissue in the back of the eye begin to separate and cause blindness in the centre of the visual field (the 'macula').
Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of visual impairment in older people. It affects 2% of people over 50 and 30% of people over 70. The condition makes it difficult to read, recognize faces or drive a car.
Janosch is investigating how to rejoin or how to replace the separated tissues in the eye. One solution is to transplant healthy retinal cells to the diseased part of the eye, but this has only been partly successful. Often the transplanted cells do not bind properly to the underlying membrane, and so fail to rejoin the tissue layers.
Janosch is researching how grafted cells can be altered to produce proteins called integrins, which normally help bind cells. If the cells can be made to produce or over-produce integrins then that would improve their adhesive quality, and make cell transplantation a more viable cure for macular degeneration.
For more about Janosch's research see his Cambridge Neuroscience web page.