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

Rebekah C. Evans, Ph.D., Georgetown University
In Vivo and Ex Vivo Dissection of Midbrain Neuron Activity During Exercise
Exercise is important for the health of the body and the mind. Exercise promotes learning and reduces symptoms of brain-related diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it…
William J. Giardino, Ph.D. Stanford University
Deciphering the Neuropeptide Circuitry of Emotional Arousal in Narcolepsy
This research project aims to investigate the neural mechanisms of a specific type of brain cell called neuropeptide neurons within a region of the brain’s amygdala network called the bed…
Howard Gritton, Ph.D., University of Illinois
Attention Mechanisms Contributing to Auditory Spatial Processing.
Our world is composed of a rich mixture of sounds. We often process sounds including speech in the presence of many other competing auditory stimuli (e.g., voices in a crowded…
Nora Kory, Ph.D., Harvard University
Elucidating the Fates and Functions of Lactate in the Brain
The human brain requires significant energy to function. Despite accounting for only 2% of our body weight, the brain consumes a substantial 20% of the body’s energy, relying on a…