Project DetailsGlaucoma can be viewed as a neurodegenerative disease in which retinal nerve cells degenerate. These nerve cells are responsible for carrying signals from the retina to the brain, and their loss results in blindness. A novel treatment for glaucoma would be to promote the regeneration of lost retinal nerve cells. Dr. Monnier has identified a protein (T61) that supports nerve growth, and its characterization represents an important step toward a molecular understanding of the environment that retinal nerve cells need in order to regenerate. Dr. Monnier believes that the lack of regeneration is due to the inhibitory factors in the environment of retinal nerve cells. He plans to first clone this protein, and then to perform a biochemical characterization and study its interaction with other proteins. He hopes to confirm the hypothesis that T61 supports retina nerve cell regeneration by showing that T61 allows nerve cell growth even in the presence of inhibitory factors that hamper regeneration. This is a long-term study that could have important consequences for the development of new treatments for glaucoma.