SUMMARY OF RESEARCH DURING 2008
(21 MD’s; 9 PhD’s; 3 other; 41 publications; 4 newspaper articles; 6 book chapters for distribution in 2 books)
Significant Scientific Accomplishments
We continue to expand our understanding of how interactions between retinal metabolism, environmental stress and genetic mutations lead to blindness.
Retinal studies have identified how rods and cones differ in their use of vitamin A, and how the accumulation of vitamin A by-products produced during the visual process, alters retinal metabolism. Vitamin A studies are providing a detailed explanation describing how we can see over a wide range of light intensities, and how defects within this system lead to specific ocular diseases.
Gamma-secretase plays a central role in the development of dry age-related macular degeneration and the conversion to the wet form of the disease. It has been determined that the activity of this proteolytic enzyme is tightly regulated by the level of reactive oxygen species within the retina.
Other retinal studies are providing an explanation of how ABCR proteins remove toxic products formed within the retina during light detection.
Glaucoma studies have identified protein acetylation as specific cellular communication signals regulating many of the events that lead to optic nerve degeneration, and how specific drugs can interfere with these signals to stop or slow this pathologic process.