Mesenchymal Stem Cells: A Therapeutic Approach to POAG

Pedro Gonzalez, PhD Duke University

Project Details

Glaucomas are a group of eye diseases that lead to a gradual loss of vision that may result in blindness. There is still no cure for glaucoma, and current treatments consist of methods aimed at restoring the intraocular pressure levels. Argon laser trabeculoplasty has provided an effective therapy for glaucoma. However, the efficiency of laser therapy is limited to a short period of time, and repetitive procedures are usually required. One possible explanation for this limited efficiency is aging. As we get old, the regenerative potential of the tissues is diminished due to the lost and aging of progenitor cells. Results from the laboratory suggest an accumulation of aged cells in the drainage canal of the glaucomatous eye. The accumulation of aged nonfunctional cells may be responsible the limited regenerative potential following laser therapy. Dr. Gonzalez's hypothesis is that transplantation of young progenitor cells following laser therapy will replace the laser-damaged cells; that these transplanted progenitor cells will repopulate the aged-drainage canal; and that this repopulation will recover the drainage canal functionality. He proposes to explore the use of adult mesenchymal stem cells from the bone marrow as a potential cellular replacement therapeutic strategy combined with laser therapy.