Investigating Axonal Death Pathways in Glaucoma
Location(s): United States
A major deficit in glaucoma management is that a diagnosis is made or treatment is initiated after there is already evidence of optic nerve cell death or visual field loss. Our goal is to investigate the parts of the optic nerve cell, specifically axons and synapses, which may be vulnerable early in the course of the disease. Axons are the long projections of neurons that conduct electrical impulses, and information is transmitted from one neuron to a second neuron across the synapses located at the ends of neurons. Investigation of the effects of elevated eye pressure on the optic nerve cell axons and synapses is critical to our long-term goals of improving diagnosis and treatment for glaucoma patients. We will use a glaucoma model to study whether the gene Sarm1 plays a role in glaucoma-induced axon death and synapse loss in the retina and brain. If Sarm1 plays a role in axon or synapse loss in our model, it would be an attractive drug target for treating glaucoma. This project seeks to uncover a new approach to glaucoma diagnosis and treatment before the optic nerve is irreversibly damaged.