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2.26.2013

Bascom Palmer Researchers Discover Novel Way to Detect Ocular Disease

In a study led by Richard M. Awdeh, M.D., assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology, researchers at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute have discovered a novel use for optical coherence tomography to detect molecular markers and improve diagnosis of ocular disease.

Published online before print in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, a journal of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the study, “Molecular Histopathology Using Gold Nanorod and Optical Coherence Tomography,” shows that gold nanorods can be used as molecular markers to image ocular tissue in the setting of ocular surface squamous neoplasia, a precancerous or, rarely, cancerous lesion that enlarges and causes vision loss.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-contact bioimaging technology that produces high-resolution, cross-sectional images of the internal microstructure of tissue by directing backscattered and back-reflected light. In the study, researchers used antibody-conjugated gold nanorods as a functionalized contrast agent, showing for the first time in ocular tissue that the lesions overexpress antiglucose transporter-1(or Glut-1), a membrane-associated, facilitative glucose transport protein, indicating a potential molecular target for the contrast agent.

The functionalized gold nanorods essentially act as a molecular contrast agent when used with high-resolution OCT systems, and demonstrate the ability to make molecular diagnosis in vivo. Using gold nanorods as the targeted contrast agent in synergy with these high-resolution systems will enhance diagnoses and monitoring, which is crucial in molecular diagnosis and prognosis of ocular disease. “This technology will eventually allow ophthalmologists to make a molecular diagnosis while in the clinic setting,” Awdeh said.

Awdeh says future work will focus the diagnostic capabilities of OCT to achieve non-invasive, in vivo optical biopsy with molecular specificity.

Other authors of the study are Shradha Prabhulkar, Ph.D., senior research associate, Jared Matthews, M.D., ophthalmology fellow, and Siddarth Rawal, Ph.D., research associate in the Department of Pathology.

Their work was supported by the National Institutes of Health and The Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research.

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