Methods: The PINNACLE study consists of both retrospective and prospective parts. In the retrospective part, more than 400,000 optical coherent tomography (OCT) images collected from four University Teaching Hospitals and the UK Biobank Population Study are being pooled, centrally stored and pre-processed. With this large dataset featuring eyes with AMD at various stages and healthy controls, we aim to identify imaging biomarkers for disease progression for intermediate AMD via supervised and unsupervised ML. The prospective study part will firstly characterise the progression of intermediate AMD in patients followed between one and three years; secondly, it will validate the utility of biomarkers identified in the retrospective cohort as predictors of progression towards late AMD. Patients aged 55-90 years old with intermediate AMD in at least one eye will be recruited across multiple sites in UK, Austria and Switzerland for visual function tests, multimodal retinal imaging and genotyping. Imaging will be repeated every four months to identify early focal signs of deterioration on spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) by human graders. A focal event triggers more frequent follow-up with visual function and imaging tests. The primary outcome is the sensitivity and specificity of the OCT imaging biomarkers. Secondary outcomes include sensitivity and specificity of novel multimodal imaging characteristics at predicting disease progression, ROC curves, time from development of imaging change to development of these endpoints, structure-function correlations, structure-genotype correlation and predictive risk models.
Conclusions: This is one of the first studies in intermediate AMD to combine both ML, retrospective and prospective AMD patient data with the goal of identifying biomarkers of progression and to report the natural history of progression of intermediate AMD with multimodal retinal imaging.