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Alfredo Dubra, PhD is a principal investigator in the Catalyst for a Cure Biomarkers Team funded by Glaucoma Research Foundation in San Francisco, CA. Catalyst for a Cure brings together scientists from different backgrounds to work collaboratively to better understand glaucoma and find ways to improve treatment and ultimately cure this blinding disease.
Watch the video for a research update from the Dubra Laboratory at Stanford University School of Medicine. The main goal of the Dubra lab is to develop non-invasive optical imaging methods for early detection and monitoring of eye disease.
Dr. Dubra: Being part of the Catalyst for a Cure team affected both my personal and professional life. From the professional point of view, it brought my entire lab and myself closer to a community, a scientific community and a clinical community, that we were not part of. We have developed a professional interest and a person interest in this field, and will continue work in this field for the rest of our careers. From that point of view, the Catalyst for a Cure has been very impactful.
We have also all been affected personally by interacting with patients. Sometimes in science, patients are an abstract thing, but by really having them participate in our studies, then you develop a more, a deeper understanding that is beyond the symptoms. You understand their concerns, their sense of urgency to find a cure, and it is really a privilege to be part of their life and trying to help.
This year, we’ve ramped up the number of patients that we’ve been studying. This is critical for really achieving this translation from a proof-of-principle to an actually clinically useful tool. If it wasn’t for the Catalyst for the Cure initiative, there are at least two optical imaging modalities that wouldn’t have been invented. We would not be substantially closer to visualizing the ganglion cells in people. In addition, some of the discoveries that we produced in the lab are going to benefit other conditions too. The investment in the team has really been multiplicative in its impact, so it’s really reaching beyond the glaucoma community, and reaching other very prevalent conditions.
By definition, glaucoma is a disease that affects the ganglion cells. Being able to monitor individual ganglion cells will be the ultimate goal as a biomarker. For example, if you were testing a drug, or even monitoring the progression of the disease so that you could very finely tune the treatment to each individual patient, and so frequently and so quickly that you could prevent the loss of individual ganglion cells, you ultimately would be preserving vision.
Last reviewed on February 22, 2018