Telomere Lengths in POAG Trabecular Meshwork Cells

E. Timothy O'Brien, PhD Duke University Medical Center

Project Details

The ends of chromosomes, called telomeres, shorten each time that most cells in the body divide. When telomeres become too short, cells can no longer divide and eventually die. Dr. O'Brien has uncovered evidence that trabecular meshwork cells from eyes with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) undergo fewer cell divisions in culture than normal TM cells. He is exploring the possibility that these cells have shorter telomeres and therefore a decreased proliferative capacity. If telomere length is found to be decreased in POAG TM cultures, Dr. O'Brien will attempt to introduce the gene required for telomere maintenance (telomerase) to determine if he can restore proliferative capacity. If the TM cells can be preserved in this way, this research could lead to new treatments for glaucoma patients.