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Glaucoma Genes and New Opportunities for Therapy

Janey L. Wiggs, MD, PhD (Harvard Medical School) delivered the Robert N. Shaffer Glaucoma Research Lecture at the AAO 2017 meeting in New Orleans. In this interview for Glaucoma Research Foundation, Dr. Wiggs discusses the main take home messages from her lecture and why genetics are significant in glaucoma research. Dr. Janey Wiggs is a clinician scientist specializing in the genetics of glaucoma with particular interest in complex and advanced glaucoma.

Video Transcript

Janey L. Wiggs, MD, PhD: For the Robert Shaffer Lecture at the AAO in 2017, my topic was using genetic research to identify new targets for glaucoma therapy. The idea there is that by identifying genes that cause, or contribute to glaucoma, and understanding what the protein products of those genes do, we can use new techniques to target those proteins to develop therapies that actually approach the actual disease mechanisms that cause the disease.

Glaucoma research has changed dramatically over the last 5 to 10 years, for genetics. There have been tremendous advances in genetic technology, next-generation sequencing, and also, high-throughput methods to genotype patients, and get genetic information.

We now currently have enough information about genetic factors that contribute to glaucoma that we really can begin to identify biological processes and proteins that contribute to the disease, making it possible to develop novel therapies that actually target those processes and proteins.

My main take-home message from my AAO lecture is that we are beginning to understand important and critical biological processes that do contribute to the disease, and that some of these could be the targets of novel therapies.
Janey L. Wiggs, MD, PhD is Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, and Associate Chief of Ophthalmology Clinical Research and Associate Director of the Howe Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston, Mass.

Last reviewed on February 28, 2020

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