Complement-Targeted Therapy to Restrict Glaucoma Progression

Alejandra Bosco, PhD
University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
Year Awarded:
2019
Grant Duration:
July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2022
Disease:
Glaucoma
Award Amount:
$200,000
Grant Reference ID:
G2019219
Award Type:
Standard
Award Region:
US Southwestern
Alejandra Bosco, PhD

Complement-Targeted Therapy to Restrict Glaucoma Progression

Summary

Glaucoma is a disease that degrades vision over time. In the retina, neurons decline and die, despite the immune responses of supporting glial cells. We have developed a new potential treatment that rebalances immune responses and controls glaucoma in old mice, and will define if it may cure patients by treating several experimental models.  Also, we will study how dying or surviving neurons interact with glia in the retina.

Details

This project will determine whether rebalancing immune activation of complement proteins and microglia via ocular gene therapy is neuroprotective in diverse experimental models of adult-onset glaucoma. Progressive vision loss in glaucoma is the result of gradual neuron decline and death in the retina, which is accompanied by dysregulated glial immune responses. My research focuses on understanding the role and function of microglia in glaucoma, and on developing translatable therapeutic strategies by modulating the actions of microglia.

About the Researcher

Dr. Alejandra Bosco is a neuroscientist with a research career dedicated to studying the retina and glaucoma. This started during her Ph.D. in Argentina, earned from the National University of La Plata in 1996, and through 9 years of postdoctoral training in the US, with leaders in retinal development and degeneration. As an investigator, she has committed the last 14 years to glaucoma research in animal models, pioneering the analysis of microglia during neurodegeneration onset and progression. She worked from 2005 to 2012 in the first Catalyst for a Cure consortium funded by the Glaucoma Research Foundation, and from 2010 to 2018, she participated in the Initiative for Innovation in Vision Science of the Lasker and International Retinal Research Foundations. Her latest findings span from the identification of microglia as key players in early neurodegeneration, to the development of complement-targeted strategies to restrict disease progression. Dr. Bosco has extensive experimental and leadership skills, closely trains, supervises and works with graduate students and technicians, and has established multiple productive collaborations. Dr. Bosco is determined to achieve her goal of regulating microglia to control progressive neurodegeneration in glaucoma.

Personal Story

The nervous system, but particularly the eye intrigued me already in high school. First I trained as a biologist and taught biology in high schools for over 12 years, then as a zoologist, and finally started doctoral research studies on the development of the retina. My postdoctoral work was launched by a Fulbright Fellowship to work in the US. My interest in glaucoma grew after attending a selective and unique course on eye disease at the Marine Biological Laboratory (Fundamental Issues in Vision Research), which encouraged me to apply my expertise to studying mechanisms of retinal ganglion cell neurodegeneration. The next year I began research work in glaucoma at the University of Utah, propelled and inspired by patients and donors, as well as investigators that I had the opportunity to collaborate with. My current investigation is aimed at stopping neurodegeneration and vision loss in glaucoma by restoring neuroprotective immune responses. The support and investment of the BrightFocus Foundation and its supporters will accelerate these focused and innovative studies.

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