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-PRESS RELEASE-

DOHENY EYE INSTITUTE RESEARCHER, DAVID HUANG, MD, PHD, RECEIVES $7 MILLION IN A FIVE YEAR GRANT RENEWAL FOR STUDYING OCULAR IMAGING FOR THE DIAGNOSIS AND MONITORING OF GLAUCOMA

 

OCTOBER 6, 2008 LOS ANGELES ---The National Eye Institute (NEI), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded nearly $7 million in a five-year grant renewal to David Huang, MD, at the Doheny Eye Institute (DEI), Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC), for the Advanced Imaging for Glaucoma (AIG) study. The grant allows for continued research and advancement in ocular imaging for the diagnosis and management of glaucoma.

 

The award funding renewal, totaling $6,914,713 in direct cost, marks the second time AIGS has successfully competed for and been awarded NEI/NIH funding. The AIG project was first funded by the NEI/NIH in 2003, as a bioengineering partnership to improve quantitative imaging technologies for glaucoma diagnosis and management. The researchers on the AIG team have pioneered the use of very high-speed Fourier-domain optical coherence tomography to measure the various ways that glaucoma affects the anatomy and functions of the eye, including optic nerve head cupping, nerve fiber layer thinning, ganglion cell loss and decreased retinal blood flow. Publications and presentations from AIG are available on the web: www.aigstudy.net/index.php

 

The competing renewal process is highly selective. This continued support from the NEI/NIH is a testament to the AIG research team and leadership.

 

The AIG Study Group consists of the following principal investigators in the clinical and engineering arms of the partnership:

 

David Huang, MD, PhD, overall principal investigator and study chairman at DEI, USC

 

James G. Fujimoto, PhD, engineering center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

David Greenfield, MD, clinical center at University of Miami (UM), Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (BPEI)

 

Joel Schuman, MD, clinical center at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Eye Center

 

Rohit Varma, MD, clinical center at DEI, USC

 

For more information, please visit our websites: www.doheny.org; www.aigstudy.net and www.coollab.net

 

About the AIG grant:

 

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness. Diagnosis and monitoring of glaucoma is of particular importance because the onset is insidious and the visual damage is irreversible. The goal of the Advanced Imaging for Glaucoma (AIG) study (www.AIGStudy.net) is to improve early detection and long-term monitoring of glaucoma by advancing the technology of optical coherence tomography (OCT), which is uniquely capable of imaging eye structures affected by glaucoma with micrometer precision. In AIG Phase I, very high-speed Fourier-domain (FD) OCT achieved higher diagnostic accuracy than other quantitative imaging technologies. Significantly, glaucoma diagnosis was made using OCT maps of macular ganglion cells and measurement of retinal blood flow. In the proposed Phase II, the next generation OCT hardware and analytic software will be developed. A longitudinal clinical study will demonstrate advantages in the early detection and prediction of disease progression. The specific aims are:

 

1. Develop image processing and diagnostic analysis for 3-dimensional (3D) OCT data. We will improve 3D image processing software to detect the loss of ganglion cells, nerve fibers, and optic disc rim and to track glaucoma progression.

 

2. Develop ultrafast OCT systems for imaging the macula and optic nerve head. We will develop the next generation technology, which is up to 40 times faster (1 MHz) than current FD-OCT. It will be capable of capturing full tissue volume in 0.1-0.2 second to achieve 3D sampling without significant motion error.

 

3. Develop Doppler OCT to measure retinal perfusion. Retinal blood flow measurement with Doppler OCT correlates very well with glaucoma status. This ground-breaking advance in functional imaging will be made practical with higher speed and automated software.

 

4. Evaluate OCT technologies in a longitudinal clinical study. An extension of the ongoing clinical study is proposed. Participants (665, including 400+ already enrolled) in normal, glaucoma suspect, and glaucoma groups will be followed. OCT and other imaging technologies will be compared for diagnostic accuracy, detection of early progression, and prediction of future visual field loss. The impact of intraocular pressure on retinal blood flow and the effect of this flow on the risk of glaucoma will also be studied.

 

Quantitative imaging technologies such as OCT have improved glaucoma management by reducing reliance on insensitive tests such as perimetry and subjective disc grading. The AIG Partnership comprises engineers and clinicians who co-invented OCT. We propose to further improve its performance with higher speed, more sophisticated software, and novel functional measurements. The eventual goal is to save vision by basing glaucoma treatment decisions on speedy and reliable imaging tests.