MTM Vision: Biorepository & Resource Center

The Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative has one goal in mind–ending visual loss from Diabetic Retinal Disease (DRD). Along with its DRD Staging Update and Clinical Endpoints Consortium efforts, The Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative Ocular Biorepository and Resource Center (MTM-BRC) plays a critical role in its Phase 1 “Cure Platform” and establishes a unique and invaluable resource that has the potential to transform and accelerate our capacity to achieve this goal. 

One of the barriers to research in diabetic eye disease is the limited availability of human eye tissue from patients with diabetes.  Unlike other tissues affected by diabetes, the retina cannot be biopsied, hence the dire need to obtain post-mortem human tissue.  The Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative aims to collect and deeply analyze tissues from over 1000 donors over 4 years and provide researchers across the world with high quality samples and associated sharable data to accelerate our understanding of the disease and catalyze collaboration. This project is modeled after the highly successful Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) which has revolutionized the understanding of pancreas changes in all types of diabetes and the Nephromine multi-omics-based platform that used kidney biopsies from human patients to profoundly expand our understanding of diabetic kidney disease. This approach will allow researchers to work together to find a cure and to successfully deliver treatments to those with DRD. 

The MTM-BRC has been established at the University of Michigan (UM) in the UM Kellogg Eye Center in association with the UM Elizabeth Weiser Caswell Diabetes Institute. The MTM-BRC includes ocular tissues that are processed, characterized, molecularly analyzed, and preserved by our expert team. The MTM-BRC is supervised by Dr. Patrice Fort, who has established the methods and quality controls for this unique ocular tissue biorepository. His related research has been published in six high-tier publications and lays the framework for this expanded undertaking and the collaborative research potential of this project. The MTM-BRC uses our long-standing and productive collaboration and connections with multiple national eye banks (Eversight, Advancing Sight Network, The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration, among others) to procure eye tissue. Since its inception the MTM-CBR has collected and characterized tissues from 16 independent diabetic donors and is poised to scale up the recovery rate. With that in mind, the project is fully supported by the University of Michigan Central Biorepository (CBR), a unit of the UM Medical School Office of Research, accredited by the College of American Pathologists and providing world-class, standardized, safe, and monitored environment for the processing, storage, and distribution of high-quality biospecimens annotated with detailed clinical and laboratory data. The CBR currently stores over 650,000 biospecimens and has distributed over 100,000 samples. This strong link with the CBR perfectly positions the MTM-BRC to distribute tissues to researchers worldwide to accelerate our search for a cure and development of novel treatments for DRD. 

In summary, the MTM-BRC will provide the diabetes research community with the critical quantity of high-quality samples and data necessary to understand DRD and required to develop novel therapies to improve patients’ lives. We have dedicated staff and established practices to support a successful, stable, and scalable biorepository, positioned to serve the global scientific community

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Support our work by donating today to the Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative fund to PRESERVE and RESTORE vision for people with diabetes