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FOCiS Highlights Molecular Research in Uveitis

Jun 21 2022

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20/20 Blog

San Francisco, CA – The Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCiS) was founded in 2001 by Stanford University professor C. Garrison Fathman as a  forum where medical researchers could share "knowledge across traditional disease borders and identify commonalities between treatments and therapies that are life-changing for those impacted by immune-mediated diseases."  

At this year's  annual meeting in San Francisco, Vinit Mahajan M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of the Molecular Surgery Program at Stanford University, took the podium to speak on proteomic biomarkers of inflammatory eye diseases. 

He joined an interdisciplinary group of physicians and researchers from across the country to share insights into disease mechanisms and treatment approaches for uveitis (eye inflammation). 

Mahajan and his team developed a method to collect and preserve vitreous biopsies from patient eyes undergoing surgery. Proteomic analysis, the largescale study of proteins, of this fluid is revealing new biomarkers and therapeutic targets for eye disease, ushering in an era of personalized health that could enable patients to preserve vision. 

Mahajan said, “These multi-protein snapshots of diseased tissue can expose ongoing molecular processes in real time. Using new proteomics technologies, our team can find specific protein expression signatures that distinguish autoimmune disease from cancer, or an infection, each requiring very different therapies. Getting the correct diagnosis as soon as possible is essential to choosing the right therapy approach, and these protein biomarkers could provide the needed clarity."

In the section on uveitis, organized by the American Society of Uveitis, Mahajan joined specialists in rheumatology and cancer biology, along with clinician-scientists in uveitis.

“Phoebe Lin, MD, PhD from the Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, and Lynn Hassman, MD, PhD from Washington University, did a fantastic job of organizing the meeting," Mahajan said.

He added, “The cutting-edge science presented was impressive. I applaud the emphasis on next-generation laboratory technologies being applied to human samples and lab models of human uveitis. These technologies are advancing precision medicine, which will take the guess work out of prescribing medications. Personalizing treatment plans can also lower costs.”