Translation of eye research into other diseases - Belgium
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- The eye offers a unique window to the brain and its circulation.
- Changes in the retinal structure and function have been linked to several cerebral and cardiovascular diseases, even in a pre-clinical stage.
- As novel, non-invasive imaging techniques that allow the evaluation of these parameters are emerging, the question on whether and how they might be incorporated into clinical practice remains largely unanswered.
- The proposed PhD research aims to investigate two promising applications that could, in an automated and non-invasive way, identify a biomarker in cardio- vascular and neurological diseases.
- The first step would be to apply these techniques in a controlled environment with animal models, and later translate the knowledge into clinical practice by trying to identify the same biomarker in patients.
- Flicker-induced retinal vasodilation as a parameter for systemic cardiovascular health
- When subjected to flickering light stimulation, healthy retinal blood vessels show a marked vasodilation.
- This process is largely endothelium dependent and hence is severely impaired with endothelium dysfunction.
- Flicker-induced retinal vasodilation has shown to be significantly reduced in patients with diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, etc., and looks promising both as a diagnostic tool and to assess the response of treatment on CV health in individual patients.
- The proposed project consists of developing and testing a novel technique to perform standardized, automated measurements of the retinal vascular endothelial function based on Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)-angiography, without the need for intravenous contrast administration or pupil dilation.
- Retinal amyloid detection using a hyperspectral snapshot image sensor.
- Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the major cause of dementia worldwide and characterized by accumulation of amyloid-protein in the cerebral cortex.
- Being an extension of the brain, the retina is also affected by amyloid deposition.
- Spectroscopic quantification of amyloid in the retina seems a promising non-invasive biomarker for AD that could be used in animal research as well as to detect patients in a pre-clinical stadium.
- Unlike all the techniques that have been used to demonstrate retinal amyloid plaques previously, the proposed technique would allow to acquire a hyperspectral signature of the retina in a cheap, fast and non-invasive method by using a hyperspectral snapshot image sensor.
- The candidate should hold a Master's degree in Biology, Biochemistry, Bio engineering, Biomedical Sciences or equivalent
- The candidate should have a strong interest in neurobiology/ophtalmology
- Good knowledge of the English language, both spoken and written, is required
- PhD position for 4 years.
- The PhD candidate will also need to apply for a scholarship.