Investigation of novel treatments for glaucoma

Abigail Hackam, PhD
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (Miami, FL)
Year Awarded:
2008
Grant Duration:
April 1, 2008 to September 30, 2010
Disease:
Glaucoma
Award Amount:
$100,000
Grant Reference ID:
G2008029
Award Type:
Standard
Award Region:
US Southeastern
Abigail Hackam, PhD

Neuroprotection of retinal ganglion cells by Muller glia: Investigation of the role of the Wnt signaling pathway.

Summary

These experiments will determine whether Wnt molecules can protect retinal ganglion cells from dying, will identify how Wnts promote survival, and will elucidate the role of Muller glia in glaucoma. The results of this study will provide new insights into glaucoma and may reveal novel directions towards developing preventive therapies.

Details

This research will address several important questions: What causes retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) to sicken and die in glaucoma? Which genes and proteins are implicated in RGC demise? Can new methods be used to save RGCs and preserve vision? Molecules called Wnts promote the survival of various types of cells, and could potentially protect retinal ganglion cells. The scientists believe that protective Wnts normally increase in glaucoma, but the levels are not high enough to save RGCs. They will determine whether delivering extra Wnt molecules protects RGCs grown in the lab, and identify the genes and proteins involved. They will also test whether another cell type in the retina called Muller glia, known to secrete high levels of Wnt molecules, can help save RGCs from dying. Finally, they will examine donated glaucomatous eyes to determine whether Wnts are elevated. These experiments will determine whether Wnts can protect retinal ganglion cells from dying, will identify how Wnts promote survival and will elucidate the role of Muller glia in glaucoma. The results of this study will provide new insights into glaucoma and may help develop novel preventive therapies.
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