Indiana University School of Medicine research and a federal small business grant have set an Indianapolis startup company on a path to develop potential new treatments for age-related macular degeneration. The age-related wet macular degeneration project represents a new direction for Dr. Kelley’s research, which has focused on the mechanisms cells use to repair damaged DNA and how those mechanisms can be manipulated when developing cancer treatments. In particular, Dr. Kelley’s work has examined a protein called APE1 and its activities in tumor development.
The type of age-related macular degeneration that causes most of the vision loss is caused by abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye, which has led to treatments using drugs designed to block blood vessel growth in cancer – known as anti-angiogenesis drugs. No more than a third of patients get significant benefits from those drugs, however.
The pursuit of a treatment for macular degeneration came about because “we were studying the effects of an APE1 inhibitor in cancer and we saw that it had anti-angiogenesis effects,” said Dr. Kelley, who is associate director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research and associate director of basic science research at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center on the campus of Indiana University, Purdue University – Indianapolis.