National Technical University of Athens, Greece
Dimitris Hatziavramidis has completed his BSc at NTUA (Greece) and MSc at University of Manchester (UK) and his PhD at University of Illinois (USA). He has spent most part of his career working for academic institutions and large corporations in the USA and is currently a Professor at NTUA. Prior to this, he served as a Professor and Director of the Particle Technology and Crystallization Center for pharmaceutical products, in the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, IL. He is a Fellow of AIChE. He has published extensively in reputed journals and has several patents.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative, occular disease and a leading cause of irreversible loss of vision in aging adults in developed countries. Its pathogenesis is characterized by uncontrolled proliferation of cells and cell growth in blood vessels, leaking of blood and proteins and aberrant folding, aggregation and accumulation of proteins. Over-expression of the vascular epithelial growth factor (VEGF) causes uncontrolled blood vessel growth resulting in violation of the blood-retina barrier and accumulation of blood and protein debris causes neuro-degeneration of cells in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and tissue dysfunction. The current treatment of AMD is primarily based on anti-VEGF drugs which are administered by intra-vitreal injection. It has been recently proposed to administer exogenous heat shock proteins such as Hsp70 by intra-vitreal injection in order to clear accumulated debris from RPE and inhibit aggregate-based cell neuro-degeneration. An equally effective and less vision-threatening than intra-vitreal injection route of administration of the above macromolecular drugs is trans-scleral delivery from an implant in the posterior eye, made out of a poly (N-isopropyl acrylamide) (NIPAM) thermally sensitive gel. This gel undergoes a phase transition characterized by a lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of 33oC, below which the drug is loaded in the gel and above which the drug is released from the gel.