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Thomas M. Brunner: Glaucoma Research Foundation was founded by three glaucoma specialists who wanted better ways to help their patients. They believed research was the way to find new treatments. We still do.
We fund one-year Shaffer Grants for Innovative Glaucoma Research to attract innovative ideas and creative researchers to the field. We also fund multi-year Catalyst for a Cure teams of scientists working together to discover how glaucoma steals sight. Shaffer Grants and Catalyst for a Cure: all part of speeding the cure. Here’s an update from the Catalyst for a Cure team and an introduction to the new team starting this year.
David J. Calkins, PhD: One of the more exciting findings that we’ve made in the CFC was published just recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In this paper we described some of the earliest detectible changes in the visual pathways in glaucoma. Whereas most of the focus early on had been on broken connections between the retina and the optic nerve, we were able to show that the more distal connections between the optic nerve and the brain were affected first.
Monica L. Vetter, PhD: During this past year, my laboratory together with the other collaborators in the consortium have been very specifically focused on trying to visualize and track changes in the microglia. And this has obvious long-term clinical potential because if we can develop methods to visualize microglia live in a patient setting, we may have the ability to both detect and monitor onset and progression of the disease over time.
Nicholas Marsh-Armstrong, PhD: The conversations that we’ve been having within the Catalyst For a Cure consortium over the last few months are laying the groundwork for a whole new approach to this disease. What we’ve discovered over the last year has been truly revealing, but more than revealing, it’s been truly surprising. The biology that we’ve uncovered in the optic nerve head is not biology that you find in textbook, it’s not what we were taught. And we think that the very unique biology that’s unfolding here, we believe, is at the heart of what blinds in glaucoma.
Philip J. Horner, PhD: It’s rare to have a relationship where labs can become really interwoven together, and our collaborative process has simply improved and we’ve become better and better collaborators. What that means is that our science moves a lot quicker. And the practical aspect of that is that we’ve been able to publish some important findings that I think have really influenced the field.
David J. Calkins, PhD: We are at a critical point in our studies where we’re actually beginning to bring all of the separate pieces and separate ideas from across laboratories to focus on a unifying theory for the disease. And this is extremely exciting, because once you have a unifying theory that fits all the pieces together, you’re able to make predictions about what your experimental interventions ought to produce. If those predictions are correct, then we’re that much closer to actually having a cure for the neurodegeneration that underlies glaucoma.
Thomas M. Brunner: Eye doctors are looking for ways to diagnose glaucoma at a much earlier stage, and also for ways to determine how rapidly the disease is progressing and how aggressively they should be treating it. And what the Glaucoma Research Foundation is now doing is bringing together a second team of scientists.
Martin B. Wax, MD: The charge is to develop a new, specific and sensitive biomarker in order to diagnose and manage the disease more effectively than those tools that doctors presently have.
Jeffrey L. Goldberg, MD, PhD: I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with this group. We’ve entered into an era of molecular understanding, of improved physics and optics. We have an opportunity to think about newer, better ways to detect the disease.
Andrew Huberman, PhD: I think there are things that are possible today and that are coming in the next few years that simply were unimaginable five or ten years ago.
Alfredo Dubra, PhD: The technology that I bring into the group is called adaptive optics, and it’s a technology that was originally developed to look at the stars. And surprisingly, the same technology can be applied to the eye to make sharp images of the retina.
Vivek Srinivasan, PhD: So I’m looking forward to combining my expertise in optical coherence tomography technology with my recent experience in brain imaging and thinking about neurodegenerative diseases to help solve the problem of biomarkers in glaucoma.
Thomas M. Brunner: So the biomarker initiative is all about giving the glaucoma specialist and the ophthalmologist more options to try to preserve vision. And now is the time to make this happen through your wonderful donations that can help fund this critical research.
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Last reviewed on September 14, 2015