Treating Blindness by Manipulating Intraretinal Melanopsin Signaling

2017 Seed Grant
Kwoon Wong, Ph.D.
The University of Michigan

Inherited loss of rod and cone photoreceptors is a leading cause of blindness and treatment options remain very limited. In this project, Dr. Kwoon Y. Wong will develop a novel strategy for sight restoration that exploits the recent discovery of non-rod non-cone photoreceptors in mammalian retinas: Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs). ipRGCs remain light-sensitive in many individuals who are blind, and Dr. Wong’s strategy is to enhance retinal photosensitivity by promoting signal transmission from ipRGCs to other retinal cells, which then signal to visual centers of the brain to evoke conscious visual perception. This approach could enable patients with vision loss to improve their sight simply through topical administration of an eye drop. This grant will help Dr. Wong optimize this method and potentially pave the way for human clinical trials on sight restoration.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
The role of microglial lysosomes in selective neuronal vulnerability
Synapses, the sites of signaling between neurons in the brain, play essential roles in learning, memory, and the health of neurons themselves. An enduring mystery is why some neurons are…
How the nervous system constructs internal models of the external world
As animals navigate their environments, they construct internal models of the external sensory world and use these models to guide their behavior. This ability to incorporate ongoing sensory stimuli into…
Xiaojing Gao, Ph.D., Stanford University
When Neural Circuits Meet Molecular Circuits: Quantitative Genetic Manipulation with Single-cell Consistency
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. We get sick when the cells “misbehave”. The way modern gene therapies work is to introduce genes, fragments of DNA molecules that…
Rafiq Huda, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Conducting the orchestra of movement—functional role of striatal astrocytes in health and disease
Movement requires coordinated activity across a large brain-wide network. The striatum is a particularly important part of this circuit; it integrates motor-related information from many distinct brain regions to regulate…