Development of New Treatments for Eye Disorders
Funding Need: $31,250
In one type of glaucoma, excess deposits of extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules lead to fibrosis (scar tissue) in the eye. This prevents the fluid in the eye from draining properly, leading to increased pressure that can damage the optic nerve and cause blindness.
In a breakthrough discovery, Dr. Parapuram’s team has found that signaling by the protein phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) has a role in balancing production and degradation of the fibrosis-causing ECM molecules. Their research now focuses on deciphering the regulation of ECM deposition and degradation, and testing drugs that increase the activity of the protein PTEN for their potential to be used as a treatment for glaucoma.
Creating a Bio-Artificial Cornea
Corneal transplantation is the main method for rehabilitation of vision in patients with corneal blindness due to fibrosis caused by injuries or disease.
However, eye banks are not able to match the demand for donor corneas, resulting in long waiting lists for corneal transplantation.
Dr. Parapuram and collaborators are in the process of developing and validating a high toughness bio-artificial cornea for human transplantation. This could lead to the generation of standardized viable corneas that are readily available for transplantation to restore vision in disease and in emergency situations.