Zheng-Rong Lu, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, has been named a 2018 Gund-Harrington Scholar by the Harrington Discovery Institute for his work in nonviral gene therapy for Stargardt disease, which is the most-common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration.
"My research is mainly focused on engineering novel simple and smart diagnostics and therapeutics for clinical translation. In diagnostics, we are focused on the development of new imaging agents for early detection and risk-stratification of aggressive cancers. In therapeutics, we are working on developing non-viral delivery systems of nucleic acids to treat currently untreatable diseases, e.g. metastatic cancer and Stargardt disease."
For the Gund-Harrington project, Dr. Lu will focus on the development of non-viral gene therapy to treat Stargardt disease using the simple and smart multifunctional lipid system developed in his lab. "Our preliminary study has shown that the delivery system can effectively deliver the large ABCA4 gene in the rod photoreceptors to treat Stargardt disease in a mouse model."