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Glaucoma Research Foundation launched the Catalyst for a Cure (CFC) Vision Restoration Initiative to better understand what causes vision loss in glaucoma and then to identify targeted interventions.
This video highlights the team’s first-year progress. It was first presented at the Glaucoma 360 Annual Gala in San Francisco on February 6, 2020.
Glaucoma Research Foundation: Catalyst for a Cure 2020 Research Progress Report
Philip Horner, PhD: I think this is a period of tremendous hope for glaucoma research.
Monica L. Vetter, PhD: Funding from the Glaucoma Research Foundation has made such a tremendous difference. It's brought new people into the field, really catalyzed new initiatives and new ideas.
Nicholas Marsh-Armstrong, PhD: I think it's fair to say that we are among the leaders in driving this field forward.
Jeffrey L. Goldberg, MD, PhD: We're so much closer to a cure now than we were years ago.
Andrew Huberman, PhD: For me, it will be immensely gratifying for a patient who's losing vision to say that they're no longer losing vision or that they lost vision and now they're getting some back.
Jeffrey Goldberg, MD, PhD: If it weren't for Catalyst for a Cure, I don't think we'd have made the progress we're now making.
David J. Calkins, PhD: The Catalyst for a Cure is unique in that it represents a new model for doing biomedical research. Four separate laboratories were identified at the beginning with the directive to collaborate with one another and to bring to bear the various tools that they offer, not in parallel and independently, but together as a team and as part of the collaborative effort.
Derek Welsbie, MD, PhD: So, the goal for the Catalyst for a Cure Vision Restoration Initiative is obviously, to restore vision. But, to understand what that means, you have to understand the background of what's involved in restoring vision in glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease where the nerve cells that connect your eyeball to the brain degenerate over time. You have about a million of these nerve cells in each eye and as they're lost, you lose vision as a patient. Now, everything we do is aimed at slowing that degeneration, but for those patients who have already lost nerve cells and who've already lost vision, there's nothing that we have to offer. So, the idea behind the Catalyst for a Cure is to come up with a novel strategy to be able to replace those nerve cells and reconnect them to the brain.
Anna La Torre, PhD: Restoring vision is a really challenging goal. So, we're trying to cover all our bases and the first thing we're trying to do something is called neuroprotection.
Yang Hu, MD, PhD: My lab is really focused on neuroprotection and optic nerve regeneration and for the previous several years here, we have developed sophisticated tools to study this question. Now, we have those tools in hand so we can really look at how we can promote optic nerve regeneration, and at least delay RGC cell death in disease models.
Xin Duan, PhD: My laboratory and my research group focus on studying the mechanism underlying the glaucoma disease etiology, and I've been using genetic models to study how the glaucoma genesis is really happening at very basic science level.
Derek Welsbie, MD, PhD: So, the approach that the Catalyst for a Cure team is taking is to try to replenish those lost nerve cells. Now, remember in glaucoma, once you've lost a nerve cell, it doesn't grow back and there's no ability to reconnect to the brain. So, we have to figure out a way to do that. The way the team is breaking this challenge down is in three parts. First, we're trying to come up with the right cell to put back into the retina to replenish those lost nerve cells. The second thing we have to do is we have to get that cell to survive and to make all the appropriate connections in the eye. And third, that cell then needs to grow its fiber all the way back across the optic nerve and connect to the right areas of the brain. So, if you imagine, there really are three stages to this challenge and that's why the Catalyst for a Cure team has people with diverse expertise to be able to tackle each of those challenges.
Anna La Torre, PhD: I am very optimistic. I think that science is now progressing at a rate that we've never seen before. There are new discoveries every day that really change everything we can do. And so, what we are trying to achieve is absolutely challenging and difficult and it's going to take a while and lots of effort, but I'm really hopeful that we will be able to restore vision.
Yang Hu, MD, PhD: I may be an optimistic person, but I sincerely believe that we have a shot at [curing] this devastating disease.
Last reviewed on February 19, 2020