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The Catalytic Effect of the "Catalyst for a Cure"

Thomas M. Brunner
Thomas M. Brunner

At the annual Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting in April, I attended a meeting on “Molecular Biomarkers in Glaucoma” emphasizing the interest in identifying new ways to measure and track glaucoma.

Biomarkers for glaucoma are one of our research goals at Glaucoma Research Foundation as we expand the Catalyst for a Cure consortium in 2012 and beyond. During the ARVO meeting there was increased interest in biomarkers with several sessions on the topic including: “New Horizons in Glaucoma Diagnostics” and “Molecular Biomarkers of Eye Disease: Toward Personalized Medicine.”


It was also my impression that there was greater interest this year at ARVO in neuroprotection and the roles of the other support cells in the retina. By my program search there were 1198 papers/posters on glaucoma, 267 on neuroprotection, and 42 specifically about neuroprotection in glaucoma.

One session on “Hot Topics in Glaucoma” had a presentation on “Tracking Retinal Microglia Activation in Optic Nerve Injury” which is an area of investigation identified by Dr. Monica Vetter and the Catalyst For a Cure team several years ago, on which they are still actively working. There was also a Special Interest Group on “The Role of Astrocytes and Other Glial Cells in Retinal Function and Glaucoma.” Dr. Nick Marsh-Armstrong presented his latest work, “Optic Nerve Head Astrocytes Constitutively Phagocytose Material Extruded from Axons.”

Catalytic Effect

These presentations and others indicate the “catalytic” effect of the Catalyst for a Cure. The research, publications, and presentations over the past nine years are definitely impacting the direction of glaucoma research. Understanding the role of glial cells in glaucoma as well as what happens to the optic nerve where the retinal nerve axons leave the eye may present new therapeutic targets and even potential biomarkers of glaucoma.


Article by Thomas M. Brunner, President and CEO of Glaucoma Research Foundation in San Francisco, California.

Last reviewed on October 29, 2017

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