Saghar Bagheri

Saghar Bagheri, MD, PhD, Research Fellow in Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School

AMDF funded a Travel Grant for Dr. Bagheri to attend  the 2019 annual meeting of the Association of Researchers in Vision and Ophthalmology, where she presented a potentially revolutionary study: patients who are considered non-responders to anti-VEGF treatment for wet AMD may all be responders, but at a shorter time interval, requiring a different approach to treatment.  This could save the sight of millions of people who currently may discontinue anti-VEGF injections due to a perceived lack of response.  Click here to watch her explain these findings to a French journalist.

“Our work on short term responders has sparked the interest of the community to give impetus to the use of home OCT monitoring for more accurate assessment, follow up, and timing of anti-VEGF dosing intervals,” says Bagheri.  “Home OCT monitoring can reduce clinic visits — a big plus during a pandemic.” 

With her 2020 AMDF Breakthrough Award, and working with Demetrios Vavvas, MD, PhD, Co-Director of the Ocular Regenerative Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, Dr. Bagheri is conducting an investigation that will lead to a better understanding of the different forms of AMD, accelerating more effective and efficient approaches to the development of treatments by researchers around the world.  

According to Drs. Vavvas and Bagheri: “AMD is not one disease that simply differs in its various stages (early, mid and late), but rather is a basket term for many different diseases that share certain features, such as affecting people later in life and having a predominant effect on the macula. Our theory is in line with recent shifts in thinking in other medical fields. For example, a study published in The Lancet in 2018 showed that diabetes, which, like AMD, is historically divided into two types (Type 1 and Type 2), is actually comprised of five replicable clusters of patients with significantly different characteristics and risks of complications. This understanding can lead to the development of more effective and targeted treatments, leading to improved patient outcomes.”

Bontzos G, Bagheri S, Ioanidi L, Kim I, Datseris I, Gragoudas E, Kabanarou S, Miller J, Tsilimbaris M, Vavvas DG. Nonresponders to Ranibizumab Anti-VEGF Treatment Are Actually Short-term Responders: A Prospective Spectral-Domain OCT Study. Ophthalmol Reti. PMID: 31937473