Protecting Vision by Blocking Protein Channels

Adnan Dibas, PhD
University of North Texas Health Science Center (Fort Worth, TX)
Year Awarded:
Grant Duration:
July 1, 2015 to August 30, 2017
Award Amount:
Grant Reference ID:
Award Type:
Award Region:
US Southern
Adnan Dibas, PhD

Targeting ASICs in Optic Neurodegenerative Diseases is Neuroprotective


Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the US. Currently, glaucoma drugs can lower pressure in the eye; however, vision loss continues. There is an urgent need for newer drugs that can save the neurons in the eye following any eye injury. The current project will attempt developing such novel drugs.


The goal of the current study is to test whether the acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC), inhibitors may exert protective effects in the retina.

Under Aim 1, we will determine the neuroprotective effects of an ASIC1 inhibitor (eg, psalmotoxin) following injury. Retinal ganglion function will be measured by pattern ERG and optic nerve damage will be assessed using benzene P –Phenylenediamine (PPD) staining. Retinal layer thickness will be monitored byhematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining.

For Aim 2, we will determine the neuroprotective effects of ASIC1/2 knockdown using shRNA lenitviral particles following retinal injuries. Retinal ganglion function will be measured by pattern ERG. Also, axonal integrity will be analyzed using PPD staining.

If successful, ASIC inhibitors may represent a new class of neuroprotective drugs in the fight against glaucoma. In addition, the use of lentiviral particles may act as an alternate therapy when selectively targeting the retinal ganglion cells. Such therapy may also be tested in other retinal neurodegenerative diseases.

Once this study is completed, there will be hope for a new class of glaucoma drugs that can be used alone or in combination with the current ones. However, current drugs only act by lowering intraocular pressure. Therefore, there is an urgent need for neuroprotective drugs and AISC inhibitors may serve that need.

About the Researcher

Adnan Dibas, PhD, is a research assistant professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) and a retinal-glaucoma researcher at the North Texas Eye Institute. He received his BS degree in biochemistry from Kuwait University in Kuwait City, Kuwait, and his PhD in biochemistry from UNTHSC. He has worked in cancer drug development and as an instructor at Mountain View College, Dallas. He joined the UNTHSC research factor in 2003 and specializes in glaucoma and retinal research.

"A close friend had a stroke and within minutes, he lost sight in one eye and developed glaucoma. He knew I was working in the glaucoma field and approached me to ask what were the latest glaucoma drugs and how effective they were. I told him that unfortunately, current drugs are far from restoring vision once glaucoma has developed. He told me that he was willing to volunteer for any new clinical trial drugs and he was willing to sacrifice so others benefit.

I told my friend that the real heroes are those who donate for research and that a good example lies in the donors who support and stand behind the research programs of BrightFocus Foundation. It is here where BrightFocus Foundation is leading the way, by supporting novel ideas and projects to make dreams of seeing again a reality for my friend and others who have suffered vision loss from glaucoma."

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