Anu Suomalainen Wartiovaara
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness in working age people. The disease shows overgrowth of vasculature in the retina, which causes rupture of microvessels and edema in the tissue, with risk to retinal detachment and decreasing eyesight. Still, the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly known, hampering development of treatments. We have found that a specific type of (DEL) cell in retina, previously considered to be “supportive”, has an important role in maintaining physiological balance in retina. If the mitochondria, the cellular “power plants”, are dysfunctional in these cells, the retinal vasculature shows overgrowth and develops disease signs mimicking diabetic retinopathy. This exciting project has high potential to find mechanistic targets amenable for interventions. We will explore the pathophysiology in deep molecular detail, using state-of-the-art tools and our long expertise in metabolism, to discover the molecular basis of neovascular retinopathy of diabetes type.