The National Eye Institute has awarded Wei Li, PhD, a $9.12 million R24 grant to develop a drug to protect infants from eye disorders due to retinopathy of prematurity, according to a press release.
Wei Li, PhD
Photo provided by Bascom Palmer
Li, from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, invented technology to screen for disease-restricted or selective drug targets. He used this technology to discover a protein called secretogranin III (Scg3), which “selectively exacerbates pathological angiogenesis in ROP but does not regulate physiological angiogenesis in the developing retina of preterm infants,” the release said. He then generated a therapeutic antibody that inhibits Scg3 function. This would alleviate ROP but not cause side effects for the developing retina.
The 5-year R24 grant will be used to fund further development of the anti-Scg3 antibody for targeted therapy of ROP, which includes additional studies to analyze its therapeutic efficacy and safety.
“Results from this study will be significant because anti-Scg3 antibody has the potential to become the first FDA-approved drug for ROP therapy,” Vittorio Porciatti, DSc, the James L. Knight Professor of Ophthalmology and director of research at Bascom Palmer, said in the release.