The Lowy Medical Research Institute was established in 2005 to act as the parent organization and funding agency of the MacTel Project, which was initiated the same year. The MacTel Project is an international study and registry program designed to improve the understanding and awareness of MacTel through patient-focused research and an affiliated laboratory program.
When the MacTel Project started, MacTel was thought to be a disease of blood vessels in the retina. By carefully studying a group of individuals with MacTel over a period of ten years, and through extensive laboratory research, the MacTel Project has reshaped how clinicians and researchers think about the disease. MacTel is now understood to be, first and foremost, a disease that affects the neurons in the eye. Many other cells in the retina are also affected by MacTel. LMRI scientists are still working to understand the cause of the disease and the cascade of events that leads to vision loss.
The goal of LMRI’s laboratory and genetic studies is to identify and test potential new treatments. Clinicians, geneticists, vision research scientists, and retinal imaging specialists from about 50 centers across North America, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East are involved in the MacTel Project.
To accelerate the pace of discovery, the Lowy Medical Research Institute opened a dedicated laboratory and office space in 2013, which serves as the LMRI headquarters. The facility is located on the Torrey Pines Mesa in La Jolla, California, home to the region’s vibrant and innovative life sciences community.
The MacTel Project continues to be a program of the Lowy Medical Research Institute. LMRI’s clinical and laboratory research programs continue to advance knowledge about MacTel. The laboratory research program has expanded beyond the international network of collaborators to include an in-house scientific research staff. The goal of the clinical and laboratory research programs is to understand the basis of the disease so that LMRI may identify additional therapies to effectively treat or cure MacTel.