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CERA research may spark glaucoma ‘sub-group’ treatment

16/01/2019By Myles Hume
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Australian neurodegeneration researchers have received a $750,000 grant to further investigate links between changes in mitochondrial DNA and optic nerve diseases.

Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) Associate Professor Ian Trounce, who leads the institute’s neurodegeneration unit, was recently awarded National Health and Medical Research Council funding to undertake the research over four years. The study will determine if mitochondrial gene changes contribute to impaired mitochondrial function in 1,000 Australian patients with glaucoma – the most common form of optic nerve disease.

“If true, we may define a sub-group of glaucoma subjects with mitochondrial DNA markers where entirely new approaches to slowing vision loss can be developed,” he said, pointing out that not all glaucoma cases were associated with increased intraocular pressure.

Trounce’s previous research has shown that faulty mitochondria – which are maternally inherited – plays a key role in the development of diseases where the optic nerve is damaged.

“We have new evidence that the energy generating cellular power-packs, the mitochondria, are defective in glaucoma,” Trounce said.

“If we could boost the energy levels in the cells just a little bit, it might make all the difference for someone with glaucoma and help them keep their vision.”

In other news, CERA research student Dr William Yan was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Futures Scholarship to study at the world-renowned Stanford University in the US. The funding will allow him to further advance his interests in ophthalmology, healthcare innovation and health informatics.

Image Caption: Ian Trounce is leading new research into a potential glaucoma ‘sub group’. Image: CERA

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