Glaucoma Researchers

Researcher: Larry Benowitz, PhD

Sponsor: Gaucoma Research Foundation

Study: The use of oncomodulin for optic nerve regeneration.

Summary: Dr. Benowitz studied the optic nerve and found that an injury to the eye activated axon growth: it caused an inflammatory reaction that stimulated immune cells known as macrophages to move into the eye. Macrophages that enter the eye produce oncomodulin, which acts upon retinal nerve cells to stimulate axon regeneration. Axon growth nearly doubled when oncomodulin was added to retinal nerve cells in a Petri dish with known growth-promoting factors already present.

The Benowitz lab is currently working on ways to combine oncomodulin with other agents to enhance the amount of axon regeneration obtained.

Study Status: Preclinical


Researcher: Dong Feng Chen, PhD

Sponsor: Research to Prevent Blindness

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Study: A novel biologic therapy for preventing vision loss in glaucoma

Summary: Dr. Chen performs research on preservation and regeneration of the optic nerve — the nerve fiber that connects and conveys visual information from the eye to the brain: She studies the causes of neuron and never fiber degeneration in glaucoma and is working to develop a regenerative approach, including that by harnessing the potential of stem cells to repair the damaged optic nerve and reverse blindness. Her laboratory was the first to achieve full-length optic nerve regeneration after injury in young mice.

In another effort, studies in Dr. Chen’s laboratory have identified a novel immune mechanism underlying the death of neurons in glaucoma. Their patented technology and biologic therapy that seek to relieve vision loss by halting the immune attacks to neurons and preserving disease-afflicted cells in patients is under preclinical testing before it may be moved to a human trial to prevent vision loss and cure glaucoma.

Study Status: Preclinical


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Updated: 05/28/2015