LEBW Gift of Sight Discovery Fund Advances Glaucoma Research at UW-Madison

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization. The University of Wisconsin Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has a long history of focused study and development of novel therapies for glaucoma. The Department is a leader in numerous aspects of glaucoma research. Here are just a few examples:

  • Paul Kaufman, MD, and his team have changed the way glaucoma is treated worldwide with the discover of how prostaglandins mechanistically affect intraocular pressure.
  • Robert Nickells, PhD, has developed novel techniques to protect the optic nerve from damage due to high internal eye pressure.
  • Curtis Brandt, PhD, is developing a new way to treat glaucoma by testing viral vectors that carry various therapeutic gene copies in animal models to determine the most effective gene to move forward in therapy.
  • Terri Young, MD, recently discovered a novel gene for human pediatric congenital glaucoma with an international team of collaborators. Her research team developed mouse models with this gene defect that display glaucoma with poor internal eye fluid draining channels. With use of molecule replacement therapy or correcting the genetic defect they demonstrate reversal of the glaucoma.

“Our work together will mean that less people will progress to blindness,” said Dr. Young, “With the Wisconsin Lions Club’s support and the leadership of the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin, we will continue our important work to understand and treat blinding diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.”

The generosity and commitment of the Wisconsin Lions and Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin makes important vision science research possible. The UW Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences is proud to share the following updates with you. Your support of today’s research makes a meaningful difference.

Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin Gift of Sight Discovery Fund 2016 Award: Curtis R. Brandt, PhD, FARVO.

Can a virus deliver a gene that stops glaucoma? Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, is ultimately caused by the death of cells in your retina, through activation of a cell death pathway. The nerve cells that die are those that connect your eye to your brain. Preventing the death of these cells could be a significant advance in treating this disease. When a virus infects a cell, this cell death pathway is activated. Every virus has developed ways to block this pathway, so that the virus can complete its life cycle and make more viruses. Herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores, carries a gene that codes for an RNA that blocks the death pathway. The goal of this project is to place the gene for this RNA, the abbreviated LAT gene, into a disabled virus to deliver it to nerve cells in the eye, thereby preventing them from dying and the resultant loss of vision.

“I am proud to be a Wisconsin Lion, and am grateful that my life’s work in the laboratory offers hope to patients and their families affected by glaucoma,” said Brandt.



Article from the October 2016 WisconsinLion