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Catalyst for a Cure Scientists Show Progress and Collaboration

The Catalyst for a Cure principal investigators are (L-R) Yang Hu, MD, PhD, Derek Welsbie, MD, PhD, Anna La Torre, PhD, and Xin Duan, PhD

In February 2019, Glaucoma Research Foundation launched the Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration Initiative with a goal to better understand what specifically causes vision loss in glaucoma and then to identify targeted interventions for protecting and restoring the neurons responsible for vision.

The Catalyst for a Cure (CFC) Vision Restoration principal investigators met in August 2019 with their scientific advisors to report on their first six months working together as a team. The ambitious goal of the CFC research team is to figure out how to restore vision lost to glaucoma.

David Calkins, PhD, Chair of the CFC Scientific Advisory Board, remarked, “The collaboration has been outstanding as the scientists have visited each other’s labs and have shared ideas and materials.” They met again in October at Yang Hu’s laboratory at Stanford and in November at a vision restoration workshop in Miami to continue their discussions and collaborative investigations.

Research Milestones

One key accomplishment in the first year was the creation of new biologic tools to identify the different types of retinal ganglion cells responsible for connecting the eye to the brain and transmitting visual images from the retina. Another milestone was developing screening techniques to allow specific types of cells to be collected. Perhaps the most important discovery of the first year was a new strategy that not only increased the survival of retinal ganglion cells, but also promoted the growth of new axons, the fibers that make up the optic nerve and connect to the brain.

A Strong Start

The Catalyst for a Cure advisors and scientists are pleased with the strong start to the project. The next step will be for the team to demonstrate their first-year advances in models of glaucoma that they hope will lead to vision restoration.

The CFC team met with their scientific advisors again in February 2020, in San Francisco, where they presented a final report on their first-year progress and plan for the second year of their research to protect and restore the retinal nerve cells lost in glaucoma.

Last reviewed on February 19, 2020

This article appeared in the January 2020 issue of Gleams.

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