Our Roadmap

The Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative (MTM Vision) was founded to carry on Mary’s leadership in support of diabetes research with a clear mission and purpose: To accelerate the development of new therapies to preserve and restore vision in people with diabetes so they can live joyful, independent lives free from the fear and suffering of vision loss.

Our Roadmap

The Challenge

Vision loss and blindness from diabetes is a global health challenge, with diabetes as the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults. Imagine living in a world where the beauty of life’s moments gradually disappears, and you lose your independence while your vision deteriorates.

Our Response

Bring together the global scientific community, and people personally affected by DRD, and catalyze research breakthroughs to accelerate the development of new ways to preserve and restore vision in people with diabetes.

Recent advances in retinal imaging, gene therapy, tissue regeneration, neuroprotection, measurement of visual function, and data science offer hope for vision-restoring treatments and preventive measures against vision loss and blindness from diabetes so future generations will not suffer as Mary did. However, achieving these breakthroughs requires collaborative efforts, specialized resources, data sharing, and communication platforms. The Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative is undertaking a multiphase approach to creating critical research resources and tools and supporting the scientific programs needed to help make Mary’s dream of a world without vision loss and blindness from diabetes a reality.

Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative Roadmap

Our Vision: A World Without Vision Loss and Blindness from Diabetes.

Phase 1: The Accelerator: A “Cure Platform”

— Diabetic Retinal Disease Staging System and Severity Scale Update
— Human Ocular Biorepository and Resource Center
— Useful Endpoints & Biomarkers Identification and Validation

Phase 2: AI Enhanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics Target Identification

— Retinal Imaging Core Linked to Clinical Data to Develop AI-assisted Diagnostics and Decision-Support
— Diagnostic & Therapeutics Target Identification and Development

Phase 3: New Methods to Preserve and Restore Visual Function

Retina Replacement

Retinal Regeneration

Stem-Cell 
Therapies
Tissue Transfection
Gene Therapy

Retinal Neuronal Cell Protection

Restore & Preserve Integrity of Retinal Vasculature

Phase One

Phase 1 of MTM Vision focuses on creating a platform of essential resources and tools that clinicians, academia, and industry scientists can use to catalyze the development of cures and improve patient outcomes. This “cure platform” addresses the critical need for a better way to diagnose, study the human eye, and measure disease progression.
A better way to diagnose

A better way to diagnose

To solve a problem, you first need to understand it. The current method for analyzing and predicting the risk of progression of DRD was first conceived over 50 years ago and only looks at the vascular component of the disease, which first appears in a later stage of disease progression.  This one-dimensional approach has held back progress in finding new advanced treatments and better care for patients, as it needs to account for the impacts on quality of life, visual function, retinal nerve disease, and more concerns associated with DRD. We are working to update the Diabetic Retinal Disease Staging System and Severity Scale to create a better way of diagnosing and predicting the risk of progression of DRD so we can better target and personalize new treatments to preserve and restore vision. The revised scale will consider everything about the disease, such as how it affects your vision and quality of life, the tiny details of what happens in your eyes, and even how the nerves in your retina get injured.

Published Paper – Ophthalmology Science: Visual Function Measurements in Eyes with Diabetic Retinopathy: An Expert Opinion on Available Measures (PDF)

A way to study human eye tissue

A way to study human eye tissue

To find a cure for DRD, we must study it in human eyes. We need a collection of adequately preserved human eye tissue and fluids that researchers worldwide can use for detailed characterization and specialized analysis at the tissue, cellular, and molecular levels. We’re gathering these valuable resources at the Mary Tyler Moore Ocular Biorepository and Resource Center at the University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center to complete the initial characterization and tissue analysis for sharing with our collaborators. This will help scientists from all over the world, in different fields, work together to speed up the progress toward finding ways to preserve and restore vision in people with diabetes.

Workshop 2023: Learn about the human eye tissue bank

A better way to measure disease progression

A better way to measure disease progression

We need better ways to measure disease progression, stabilization, or reversal to personalize treatment and study how a particular treatment works. Everyone involved in patient care and new drug development, including clinicians, industry, academia, and regulatory bodies, must gain consensus on how we measure DRD, its progression or reversal, and the risk of future events. This includes finding ways to measure how patients feel, how well they can see, and what’s happening in their retinas. We are leading efforts to help create these measures so that new treatments can be developed faster and patients can get the care they need. By doing the required studies to validate the ways we measure DRD and getting everyone to agree on which measures can be used in care and research, including for regulatory (FDA) approval of new drugs, MTM Vision will speed up the process of turning scientific discoveries into new drugs with tangible, measurable, patient benefits.

Workshop 2023: Learn about Clinical Endpoints and Biomarkers

Published Paper – TVST: Translational Vision Science & Technology: Mary Tyler Moore Vision Initiative Diabetic Retinal Disease Clinical Endpoints Workshop (PDF)

Success in Phase 1 will help create new ways to diagnose DRD and personalize treatment, even in the early stages, to identify new therapeutic targets for drug development at the cellular and molecular levels. This will help to establish new regulatory pathways for approving drugs and ways to improve clinical outcomes for people with and at risk for DRD.

To create the greatest value and optimize the use of our Phase 1 cure platform resources and tools, we are forming a cross-sector consortium where leading university-based scientists, and community clinicians can collaborate with counterparts in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and share data in the pre-competitive space to support and accelerate their research efforts. This will help speed up the development, approval, and use of new treatments for DRD.

Phase Two

Phase 2 of MTM Vision will focus on further improving how we diagnose and assess the severity of  DRD and identify new targets for drug development needed to personalize treatment better:
Retinal Imaging, Visual Function, and Treatment Personalization Core

Retinal Imaging, Visual Function, and Treatment Personalization Core

In Phase 2, working with our partners and collaborators, we will assemble libraries of retinal images collected over past decades from diverse populations — establishing an image bank of millions of digital images — and link these images with measures of visual function, patient-reported impacts, and other patient attributes. This will create a large de-identified learning database that we can use to develop robust artificial intelligence (AI) tools to enhance clinical decision-making, better personalize care and improve patient outcomes, reduce healthcare inequities, and drive research and innovation.

Therapeutics Target Identification Core

Therapeutics Target Identification Core

With the successful University of Michigan Kidney Translation Core and Renal Pre-Competitive Consortium (RPC²) as its models, MTM Vision will establish a therapeutics target identification core as a companion to its ocular biorepository to facilitate global precision and personalized medicine research among our academic and industry collaborators. In this way, we hope to accelerate the development of new treatments to protect the retina from damage due to diabetes and prevent and “cure” vision loss and blindness using new drugs tuned to the disease’s stage severity and individual attributes.

Phase Three

Phase 3 of MTM Vision will focus on “science with a mission” programs structured to find new ways to preserve and restore vision in people with diabetes. This includes programs that:

Stop the damage caused by DRD and protect the blood vessels and nerves in the eyes from further harm by diabetes.

Help the retina heal itself to preserve and restore vision.

Create and implant a “retina patch” using a laboratory-generated neo-retina to restore vision in people with very low vision.

Take Action

Donate to Advance Research for a World without Vision Loss and Blindness from Diabetes

The sight you help save may be your own or that of someone you love.

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