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The Catalyst For a Cure (CFC) principal investigators have identified a "window of opportunity" in the very early stages of glaucoma's progression.
Dr. Marsh-Armstrong: If we can detect those molecular changes that precede, by far, when the disease actually sets in, this would be an opportunity to identify individuals who may be already starting on the disease course or who may be highly susceptible to the disease and focus intervention specifically to them. So I think the basic science has told us that the biology is such that there are the possibility for identifying this disease at a very early stage, and that's something that we did not know, and I think that that's very exciting.
Dr. Vetter: As soon as a neuron loses its connections, that's when the retina loses the ability to support vision. So you lose vision as soon as those connections disappear. But then there is this prolonged period before there is an irreversible event and the cells are actually dying. And so, we see this as a potential window that we need to be focusing on.
We know that there is a series of changes that are happening, and it's those changes that we can target and prevent the decline of the neurons, before it becomes an irreversible blindness that is not treatable any longer.
And so a lot of the effort within the consortium now is focused on those very early changes. We're targeting the responses of the glia and the microglia as potential triggers or drivers of the disease. And we're also thinking about ways that connections, both inputs and outputs, can be maintained, and we can preserve the functionality of the neurons within the retina, the retinal ganglion cells in particular, so that you can preserve vision for a longer period of time and hopefully prevent the disease from progressing.
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Last reviewed on January 16, 2018