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ALBANY, N.Y., December 8, 2003 – A $50,000 donation from the David E. Bryant Trust as administered by Fleet Bank to an Albany Medical College scientist will fund research into how rapid blood vessel growth in the eyes – a condition known as hyperproliferation – can lead to blindness. Kevin Pumiglia, Ph.D., associate professor in the College’s Center for Cell Biology and Cancer Research, hopes his research will lead to the development of effective drug therapies against the condition.
Several leading causes of blindness, including retinopathy of prematurity, proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and wet macular degeneration, all share the characteristic of rapid growth of new blood vessels, or hyperproliferation. Pumiglia’s ongoing research of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a key mediator of blood vessel growth, led him to discover that certain biochemical changes triggered by VEGF may lead to targets for drug therapies.
“If we can find the key regulatory molecules critical for VEGF’s actions, they are likely to represent good targets for improved therapies to treat blindness,” Pumiglia said.
The $50,000 gift will create the David E. Bryant Research Fund at Albany Med, enabling Pumiglia to purchase the highly specialized retinal endothelial cells required to study the specific relationship of angiogenesis to blindness, as well as the cell chambers used to measure the cell changes in real time.
“I am especially grateful to the David E. Bryant Trust and Fleet Bank for this gift,” said Pumiglia. “The gift will give us the capacity to generate preliminary results that will leverage additional funding sources, eventually leading to drug therapy to prevent or treat blindness caused by rapid vessel growth.”
Albany Medical Center is northeastern New York's only academic health sciences center. It consists of one of the nation's oldest medical schools, Albany Medical College; one of New York's largest teaching hospitals, Albany Medical Center Hospital; and one of the Capital Region's most active fundraising organizations, the Albany Medical Center Foundation, Inc.