How Breakthroughs Happen
SriniVas Sadda, MD
President & Chief Scientific Officer
Science is always a matter of good guesses followed by meticulous work to prove whether these guesses are correct or not. We call this work experiments, studies, and trials, and the work ultimately leads to new treatments. At Doheny we are fortunate to have the best doctors in the field, using the finest equipment and technology with access to outstanding resources, working together toward understanding and curing eye diseases.
One of our quests is to find answers that will help bring an end to macular degeneration. We’ve participated in several studies, most recently to learn if a drug called Lampalizumab could be useful in arresting loss of the light-sensitive cells in the eye. Our patients at UCLA were part of this trial; and we actually analyzed all of the patient participant images from around the world here at the Doheny Image Reading Center. Needless to say, we had high hopes of finding evidence that this therapy was working. But the results of the first trial are in, and it looks as if this drug was not effective. While that outcome is disappointing, it does serve as a reminder that we need to renew our energies in this effort.
In the Lampalizumab trial, the hope was to find that the loss of retinal cells contributing to vision loss was tied to the complement system and that blocking this system might protect these cells. The evidence didn’t back that up; but the possibility remains that with earlier intervention, this drug or other similar drugs might in fact still work. Our efforts continue as we try to understand why these precious cells die and what we can do to protect them. We very much feel this is a race against time, as we know so many patients are counting on us to find a cure.
This work is a major focus of the research programs here at Doheny, including the work in the laboratory of Dr. Ram Kannan. He leads a team investigating small molecules, such as the protein humanin, and how these molecules may protect vulnerable cells from dying. We remain very optimistic that continued progress in his work will lead to conducting new clinical trials and, ultimately, to finding a cure for AMD.
I’ll take a deeper dive into the lab work around these trials in our next newsletter. Our mission is clear as we work toward breakthroughs. Doheny doctors are here to continuously search for what works and to look ahead to the next phase of research, with your support.
Luminaire Jrs. Light Up Venice Lantern House
Three charming Venice cottages welcomed our Luminaire Juniors, their guests and Doheny doctors for a night of design, delicious bites and generous giving in late September. Our huge thanks to Scott Mayer, great friend of Doheny, who opened his hidden Lantern House complex for this very special night of celebration with a cause. With food by Gjelina, a few exclusive auction items and plenty to talk about among the three artfully designed cottages, it was a memorable evening. My thanks to our Luminaire Juniors for their leadership in engaging young professional donors in Doheny’s work!
The Doheny Eye Institute is fortunate to be among the select charities supported by the Southern Dames of America. On Thursday, October 5th, we hosted a tour for the Southern California Chapter. The ladies in attendance toured the research facilities at the Doheny Vision Research Center and learned more about Doheny’s cutting-edge research in glaucoma. Doheny offers the Southern Dames of America a heartfelt thanks for their support of vision research.