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For two days in October 2008, researchers collected at Vanderbilt University for a focused symposium entitled “Neurodegeneration in Glaucoma: From Mechanisms to New Treatments.”
Glaucoma Research Foundation was the primary sponsor of the meeting. Unlike the current indirect glaucoma treatments that work to lower the pressure within the eye, the goal of this meeting was to discover ways to treat the disease by stopping and possibly reversing damage to the optic nerve itself.
Because the retina and optic nerve are components of the central nervous system, the time is ripe for collaborations that draw upon tools and expertise from other neurobiological systems.
Of particular interest are the similarities between glaucoma and other chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease. The hope is that by studying the mechanisms of neurodegeneration, we can identify new targets for novel therapeutic interventions to preserve vision before the critical point of irreversible damage occurs.
Internationally renowned scientists and physicians participated, and eleven travel grants were awarded to educate and motivate the next wave of researchers who are so important to curing this disease. Speakers elucidated the molecular and cellular mechanisms that are delicately balanced between programmed cell survival and programmed cell death in glaucoma.
The 2008 Vanderbilt Symposium had twice as many the attendees as the meeting in 2006, indicating the growing scientific interest in this research approach to glaucoma.
Last reviewed on August 25, 2017
This article appeared in the January 2009 issue of Gleams.Subscribe