Targeting Inflammatory Cells to Treat Glaucoma

Sarah Zhang, MD
State University of New York at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY)
Year Awarded:
2019
Grant Duration:
July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021
Disease:
Glaucoma
Award Amount:
$200,000
Grant Reference ID:
G2019302
Award Type:
Standard
Award Region:
US Northeastern
Sarah Zhang, MD

Targeting Neuroinflammation for RGC Protection in Glaucoma

Summary

The proposed research studies a novel protein that was recently identified as a key regulator of macrophages, a type of immune cells, that are activated during glaucoma. Using genetic tools and animal models, the study will explore how this protein regulates macrophage activation and inflammation in the retina of glaucoma eyes.

Details

The proposed research studies a novel protein that was recently identified as a key regulator of macrophages, a type of immune cells, that are activated during glaucoma. Using genetic tools and animal models, the study will explore how this protein regulates macrophage activation and inflammation in the retina of glaucoma eyes.  Furthermore, the study will develop a novel therapy using small vesicles secreted from bone marrow stem cells to manipulate macrophage behavior and protect retinal neurons in glaucoma. Completion of the project will help understand how glaucoma damages retinal neurons and develop new treatment to reduce retinal damage and preserve vision in glaucoma.

About the Researcher

Dr. Sarah Zhang was trained as an Ophthalmologist and a vision researcher. She received her M.D. degree from Sun Yat-sen University and post-doctoral training at Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Medical University of South Caroline, and University of Oklahoma. She is currently Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She also holds a secondary appointment as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the same institution. Dr. Zhang's laboratory studies the mechanisms of retinal diseases including diabetic retinopathy and retinal neurodegeneration related to age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Personal Story

I have a longstanding interest in studying the molecular mechanisms of retinal cell damage and developing new treatments for retinal diseases. This research interest stemmed from my early clinical practice as a retinal specialist and was further enhanced by the significant unmet need of effective therapies for many degenerative retinal diseases including glaucoma. Over the past years, my lab has identified that proteins involved in cellular stress response play an important role in retinal cell survival and function in pathological conditions such as diabetes. With this BrightFocus grant, we will test whether these proteins can also protect the retina from damage caused by inflammation in glaucoma.

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