Eye diseases affect several hundred million people around the globe and are responsible for vision loss and blindness, conditions that have enormous health, social and economic impact.
At IBILI, we have been mainly focused on retinal degenerative diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma, but also on inherited retinal degenerative diseases. These pathologies have no cure and the available treatments are scarce and mainly targeted for the late stages of the diseases, particularly in diabetic retinopathy and AMD. Moreover, those treatments are not completely effective, because disease still progresses in a high percentage of patients. Therefore, new and more effective therapies are urgently needed.
Another interest at IBILI has been the quality of vision. Many patients experience several adverse effects after cataract and refractive surgery, and research has been conducted to prevent and ameliorate those effects. Diseases of ocular surface and corneal transplantation are also an important topic of research at IBILI.
More recently, we have become interested in the concept ‘The retina as a window to the brain’, because patients suffering from brain degenerative diseases also experience visual alterations, sometimes before disease diagnosis. Thus, the retina, which can be easily and non-invasively assessed, can be used to look into the brain.
At IBILI, gathering a multidisciplinary team, we have been investigating these pathologies and conditions in a basic (using in vitro and animal models) and/or clinical perspective, also aiming translating some findings into the clinics. Therefore, our main goals are:
- to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying retinal degenerative diseases, at both early and late stages;
- to identify genetic determinants in these pathologies;
- to identify new reliable biomarkers;
- to better characterize the pathology based on epidemiological studies;
- to identify new therapeutic targets;
- to improve existing therapeutic modalities;
- to develop new therapeutic strategies;
- to develop new software and instrumentation to improve data acquisition and diagnostics.