Group of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Group Leader

Kai Kaarniranta
Professor
Tel.: +358-44 059 32 90
E-mail: kai.kaarniranta (at) uef.fi

Researchers

Juha Hyttinen, PhD
Adrian Smedowski MD, PhD, post-doctoral fellow

Doctoral Students

Francesco Dragoni
Hanna-Mari Jauhonen
Niko Kivinen
Tuomas Paimela
Jussi Paterno
Johanna Viiri
Pasi Vottonen

Major Research Interests

AMD  research group aims at studying regulatory mechanism of protein aggregation, lysosomal and autophagy clearance in retinal pigment epithelial cells. We aim at find novel autophagy (http://nordicautophagy.org/home.php)  linked therapy for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is the leading cause of blindness and is characterized by a progressive loss of central vision attributable to degenerative and neovascular changes in the macula, a highly specialized region of the central retina responsible for fine and color vision. The protein aggregation is strongly associated with senescence of retinal pigment epithelial cells and development of AMD. Intracellular lysosomal lipofuscin and extracellular drusen protein deposits are strongly associated with AMD. To date there is strong evidence that in AMD proteasomal and lysosomal clearance is disturbed, resulting in increase protein aggregation and AMD development.
Some of protein aggregates are subsequently secreted out of cells that might be initiative stimuli for drusen formation and advancing of severe AMD. Our laboratory aims at understanding the function of molecular chaperones in proteasomal and lysosomal clearance in RPE cells.

Selected Publications