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Case Note Sections:

Protein Ageing

The background:

Stable structural proteins are critical for the functioning of many o our bodies systems. Collagens form the flexible scaffold that allows bones to recover from impacts, they connect our muscles to our bones and they play a critical role in the back of the eye. The detection of light requires a lot of energy and creates a lot of waste products, needing careful sieving of fluids entering and leaving the photosensitive cells. Collagen forms this sieve but natural processes lead to the destruction of this filter and build up of toxic waste that kills retinal cells.

Age Related Vision Loss: Protein Degradation

The filter at the rear of the eye is a mere 1/10th the thickness of a human hair but plays a critical lifetime role in protecting the photoreceptive cells of the retina. It is exposed to a wide range of biochemical agents and as it is never renewed it accumulates and damage inflicted on it.

When the project was started no method existed for measuring the complex web of accumulated damage comprehensively. Individual types of damage could be analysed one by one but required destroying valuable tissue

Schematic showing theanatomy of a human eye. Light is pre focused by the cornea, fine focused by the less and projected onto the retina. A fine filter lies behind the photosensitive retina, protecting it from toxic build up.

Schematic of the Human eye

The main requirements were:

  • Distinguish multiple different stressors in pure form
  • sample tissue with minimal disruption
  • Measure multiple stressors simultaneously in-situ within the filter tissue

Secondary Requirements

  • sample handling methods that maintained integrity of the samples
  • signal processing methods capable of handling the real-world complexity of the samples
  • Data analysis methods capable of capturing and using the full variation of the dataset
  • Provide scientific insight
  • Coordinate a team spanning 6 departments and 5 other projects.
  • Meet regulatory requirements of multiple standards:
  • Human Tissue Act
  • Good Clinical Practice
  • Ethics