Molecular Mechanism of Ganglion Cell Death in Glaucoma
Susceptibility to glaucoma may be governed by multiple genes affecting different parts of the eye, for example, genes affecting intraocular pressure in the anterior part of the eye. However, damage to the eye in the form of neuronal cell death is the critical event leading to blindness, and Dr. Nickells' long-range goal is to identify genes that contribute to the survival of ganglion cells under various conditions, including conditions that may mimic human glaucoma. To simplify the search for these genes, he proposes that strains of mice need to be developed that can be easily measured for changes in ganglion cell number. He is working to develop mice that express a marker gene that can be used to rapidly screen for the phenotype of ganglion cell variation. These mice can then be used for identifying the genes affecting ganglion cell survival.