Bioptigen Offers Deep Imaging SDOCT For Pre-Clinical Applications

The medical imaging device company, Bioptigen Inc., has created the commercial market’s deepest spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SDOCT) imaging system for pre-clinical applications.

Called the Envisu R4300, it is the first Fourier-domain OCT system with extended depth-imaging capability in the 800-nanometers wavelength band. With an imaging depth of eight millimeters – plus better than five micrometer axial resolution – the Envisu R4300 is well suited for imaging deep eye structures for pre-clinical ophthalmic research and development.

In preliminary performance demonstrations, the Envisu R4300 captured full-range images of the anterior segment. It can image an entire ocular lens capsule in vivo, as well as the positioning of an aphakic intraocular lens.

And with its patented convertible objective lens system, the Envisu R4300 provides extended-depth, high-resolution retinal imaging for clear visualization of outer retinal structures, choroid, and deep structures of the optic nerve head. In small animal models, the Envisu R4300 provides whole-eye imaging uniquely suited to developmental biometry.

“The Envisu R4300 represents a huge milestone for ophthalmic imaging,” said Dr. Eric Buckland, president and CEO. “By providing animal researchers with full-range images of ocular structures, Bioptigen is advancing science’s understanding of the eye’s developmental biology, as well as of diseases that affect the anterior segment or vitreous. And we’re accelerating visualization of surgical procedures that require a deeper field of view than is otherwise available.”

Bioptigen unveiled its Envisu R4300 system at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual meeting taking place this week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The company just released a new pre-clinical software package, InVivoVue™ Miner, which automates analysis of retinal layers of mouse models.

Bioptigen originally created its proprietary Envisu non-invasive spectral domain ophthalmic imaging platform specifically for small animal imaging. The Envisu family of systems uses low-power, near-infrared light to acquire, process, display and store real-time, depth-resolved images of ocular tissues. Envisu delivers resolution 100 times finer than standard ultrasound.

Bioptigen delivers highly sophisticated ophthalmic medical imaging devices renowned for their performance and versatility. The company’s passion for collaboration and innovation enables life-changing advances in health care through the boundless potential of its revolutionary imaging technologies.


Bioptigen Inc.

New Way To Produce High-Vitamin Corn Could Improve Eye Health And Nutrition In Developing Countries

Scientists have developed a potentially powerful new tool in the fight against deficiencies in dietary vitamin A, which cause eye diseases, including blindness, in 40 million children annually, and increased health risks for about 250 million people, mostly in developing countries.

This tool consists of “a new method of analyzing the genetic makeup of corn that will enable developing countries to identify and increase cultivation of corn that has naturally high levels of vitamin A precursors,” says Ed Buckler, a co-leader of the research team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and Cornell University

Corn is an essential part of the diets of hundreds of millions of people around the world, many of whom live in developing countries. Regular consumption by adults and children of adequate quantities of corn high in vitamin A precursors, which are converted in the human body into vitamin A, would reduce their chances of developing vitamin A deficiencies and associated health problems.

This new method of increasing cultivation of high-vitamin corn is designed to tap the natural genetic diversity of corn. It was developed by a team led by Buckler and Torbert Rocheford of the University of Illinois, and was partially funded by The National Science Foundation (NSF). It is described in the January 18, 2007 edition of Science.

“In a field of thousands of ears of corn, each ear has a slightly different genetic makeup and resulting differences in physical characteristics, including levels of vitamin A precursors — just like every person in a crowd has a slightly different genetic makeup and associated physiological differences,” explains James Collins, assistant director for the Biological Sciences Directorate at NSF. But only a very small percentage of corn crops are genetically programmed to have naturally high levels of vitamin A precursors, and these high-vitamin ears cannot be identified merely by visual inspection. “Therefore, identifying crops that have high levels of vitamin A precursors has traditionally been like finding a needle in a haystack.”

But the team led by Buckler and Rocheford has significantly simplified the task of sifting through that proverbial haystack. They did so by identifying genetic markers in corn that are associated with high levels of vitamin A precursors. These markers can be used by “scientists working in very basic labs in developing countries to quickly screen for local corn strains that are high in vitamin A precursors,” says Buckler. Then, these high-vitamin strains may be bred, cultivated and consumed by local people.

Corn is the dominant subsistence crop in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, where 17 to 30 percent of children under age five are vitamin A deficient, says Buckler. Because corn is consumed for all three meals a day in much of Africa, it is a good target for vitamin biofortification, he added.

Buckler says that his team’s method for analyzing the genetic makeup of corn is “much simpler and faster and up to 1,000-fold cheaper” than running the types of chemical tests that were previously available for identifying corn high in vitamin A precursors. He expects it to significantly accelerate the vitamin biofortification of corn crops.

The Buckler and Rocheford team is currently working with various international organizations, such as CIMMYT (the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, to help train plant breeders in developing countries to use their techniques.

Buckler says that this new method of increasing cultivation of high-vitamin corn was made possible by recent breakthroughs in statistical analyses and the advent of rapid DNA sequencers — instruments that are used to automate genetic profiling of crops. The researchers expect this new method to have broad applications beyond corn improvement.

Source: Ed Buckler

National Science Foundation

Respiratory Infection May Be Contracted Through The Eye

A respiratory pathogen common in newborns may be passed on to the lungs following initial infection in the eye say researchers from the University of South Alabama, College of Medicine. They report their findings in the January 2007 issue of the Journal of Virology.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common infection in children also referred to as “croup”, causes common cold or flu like symptoms such as wheezing, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and asthma and annually claims the lives of millions worldwide. Currently, there is no reliable vaccine or preventative antiviral available and post-infection treatments have proven unreliable, controversial and expensive.

In the study researchers instilled RSV in the eyes of mice and monitored the progression of infection. Results showed that RSV not only replicated robustly in the eye, but it also moved into the lung causing a respiratory disease indistinguishable from nasally acquired RSV.

“These results establish the eye as a major gateway of respiratory infection and a respiratory virus as a bona fide eye pathogen, thus offering novel intervention and treatment options” say the researchers.

(V. Bitko, A. Musiyenko, S. Barik. 2006. Viral infection of the lungs through the eye. Journal of Virology, 81. 2: 783-790)

Tips from the Journals of the American Society for Microbiology

Contact: Carrie Patterson

American Society for Microbiology

New Study Challenges ‘critical Period’ In Childhood Vision Development

Understanding how the human brain learns to perceive objects is one of the ultimate challenges in neuroscience. In 2003, Pawan Sinha, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, launched an initiative with the hopes of shedding some light on the acquisition of visual skills. The goal of his “Project Prakash” is to find, treat, and study congenitally blind children in India. A unique case study that resulted from this project appears in the December 2006 issue of Psychological Science.

Dr. Sinha and two graduate students, Yuri Ostrovsky and Aaron Andalman, were introduced to a woman in India who was born blind due to dense congenital cataracts in both eyes. The woman lived as a blind child for 12 years before she received treatment. Now, twenty years after her surgery, the researchers found that she is able to discern between separate objects, determine depth, localize faces amongst a background of natural scenes, and match faces by their identity. This case demonstrated that a person can acquire visual function even after being deprived of sight for an extended period during childhood.

The evidence gathered from this case study presents a scientific alternative to the widely noted “critical period” that the brain undergoes during childhood. The critical period theory asserts that the brain’s learning mechanisms are significantly dependent on early sensory stimulation. Sinha and his colleagues posit that while some aspects of vision, such as acuity, might indeed be subject to critical periods, many other aspects of functional vision might be learnable even at later ages. In other words, perhaps our brain is not as rigid as we think, and its plasticity remains even after several years of compromised sensory experience. The results of this study provide an argument for even late-stage blindness treatments and guide researchers towards an improved understanding of the complexities of the brain.

Contact: Pawan Sinha

Association for Psychological Science

Clinical And Pre-Clinical Results For The LensAR Laser System For Cataract Surgery And Presbyopia Treatment To Be Presented At ASCRS

LensAR, Inc., a leading developer of next generation laser technology for cataract surgery and other ocular applications, announced that four of the company’s scientific collaborators will present clinical and pre-clinical data for the LensAR Laser System at the upcoming 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS). The presentations will include results from studies designed to assess the performance of the LensAR Laser System in cataract surgery and the treatment of presbyopia. The conference will be held April 9-14, 2010 in Boston, MA.

Details for the LensAR presentations are as follows:

— Femtosecond Laser Treatment of Crystalline Lens for Presbyopia: Presented by Ronald Krueger, M.D., medical director, Department of Refractive Surgery, Division of Ophthalmology, Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation; 8:32 – 8:37 a.m., April 12, 2010

— Alternative Fragmentation Patterns in Femtosecond Laser Cataract Surgery: Presented by William J. Fishkind, M.D., director of the Fishkind, Bakewell & Maltzman Eye Care and Surgery Center in Tucson, and clinical professor at the University of Utah; 8:42 – 8:47 a.m., April 12, 2010

— Clinical Results from the Use of a Femtosecond Laser in Cataract Surgery: Presented by Ramon Naranjo Tackman, M.D., director of Corneal and Refractive Surgery, National University of Mexico, and professor of ophthalmology, Panamerican University School of Medicine, Mexico City; 1:12 – 1:17 p.m., April 12, 2010

— Use of Femtosecond Lasers to Create Corneal Incisions: Presented by Louis D. “Skip” Nichamin, M.D., medical director of the Laurel Eye Clinic Center in Brookville, PA; 1:17 – 1:22 p.m., April 12, 2010

In addition to the data presentations, LensAR will also host a number of featured presentations by several of the industry’s leading surgeons at the company’s booth (#218) during the ASCRS conference. These presentations are designed to allow conference attendees to hear directly from recognized leaders in refractive surgery about the LensAR Laser System’s latest clinical results, performance and ease of use, as well as the system’s future potential for all laser limbal relaxing incisions (LRIs), clear corneal incisions (CCIs) and presbyopia correction. Featured speakers will include:

— David F. Chang, M.D., clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and an adjunct clinical professor of ophthalmology at the Chinese University in Hong Kong

— William J. Fishkind, M.D., director of the Fishkind, Bakewell & Maltzman Eye Care and Surgery Center in Tucson, and clinical professor at the University of Utah

— Ronald Krueger, M.D., medical director, Department of Refractive Surgery, Division of Ophthalmology, Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

— Louis D. “Skip” Nichamin, M.D., medical director of the Laurel Eye Clinic Center in Brookville, PA

— Kerry D. Solomon, M.D., director of the Carolina Eye Research Institute at Carolina Eye Care Physicians in Charleston, SC.

— R. Bruce Wallace III, M.D., founder and medical director of the Wallace Eye Surgery in Alexandria, Louisiana, clinical professor of ophthalmology at Louisiana State University, and assistant clinical professor of ophthalmology at Tulane University

Conference attendees are also invited to visit the company’s booth (#218) for a video demonstration of the LensAR Laser System.

It should be noted that the LensAR Laser System is not cleared for sale in the United States at this time. It is an investigational device limited by United States law to investigational use only.

About LensAR, Inc.

LensAR, Inc. is a leading developer of next generation laser technology for cataract surgery and other ocular applications, including presbyopia. The LensAR Laser System, which integrates an advanced femtosecond (short pulse) laser with propriety ocular measurement and laser scanning technologies, is being designed to allow physicians to perform several of the steps in cataract surgery (capsulotomy, lens fragmentation, precise astigmatic corrections and unique clear corneal incisions) in a single laser procedure. In addition to advancing its laser technology in the area of cataract surgery, the company is also developing the LensAR Laser System for the treatment of presbyopia.

Source: LensAR, Inc

Set Your Sights On Spring Eye Allergy Relief

With the record-breaking cold and snow the country experienced this winter, spring will be a much welcomed relief. But, for many Americans who suffer from allergies, warmer weather brings the onset of sneezing, coughing and itchy, watery eyes.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), eye allergies, also called “allergic conjunctivitis,” are a reaction to indoor and outdoor allergens – pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander – that get in the eyes and cause inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner eyelid.

While eye allergies can affect anyone, spring can be particularly hard on contact lens wearers. Even if you don’t generally experience problems wearing contacts throughout most of the year, allergy season can make contacts uncomfortable. Extended wear time and infrequent lens replacement are two of the main reasons contact lens wearers face more prevalent symptoms.

W. Lee Ball, O.D., staff optometrist, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, Boston, recommends contact lens wearers consider the following tips to make the spring season more comfortable:

– Talk to your optometrist about changing your cleaning method or using single-use contact lenses.

– If possible, reduce contact lens wearing time. Otherwise, use eye drops as prescribed by a doctor of optometry.

When it comes to treating symptoms of allergies, the American Eye-Q®, a recent nationwide survey commissioned by the American Optometric Association, found almost half (44 percent) of allergy suffers use antihistamines or other medications to treat their symptoms. While antihistamines can help with typical symptoms like runny noses and sneezing, the medication can make ocular symptoms worse by reducing tear quality and quantity.

“To effectively treat and relieve the symptoms caused by eye allergies, patients should see their optometrist,” said Dr. Ball. “In most cases, we can soothe allergy-related conjunctivitis with prescriptions or over-the-counter eye drops depending on the patient and his or her medical history.”

Eye-Q® respondents also indicated that eye allergies can be a nuisance and interfere with participating in recreational outdoor activities (32 percent); sleep (29 percent) and the ability to think or concentrate (28 percent). Fortunately, eye allergies can be curtailed and sometimes even prevented by following these recommendations from the AOA:

– Don’t touch or rub your eyes.

– Wash hands often with soap and water.

– Wash bed linens and pillowcases in hot water and detergent to reduce allergens.

– Avoid sharing, and in some cases, wearing eye makeup.

– Never share contact lenses or contact lens cases with someone else.

Beyond discussing allergy relief with your optometrist, the AOA also recommends adults have yearly eye exams. Based on an individual’s eye health and the severity of their eye allergies, the eye doctor may recommend more frequent visits.

About the survey

The fifth annual American Eye-Q® survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From April 14-21, 2010, using an online methodology, PSB interviewed 1,007 Americans 18 years and older who embodied a nationally representative sample of U.S. general population. (Margin of error at 95 percent confidence level)


American Optometric Association

Study Exposes Multiple Failings In Long-Term Support For Sight Loss, UK

In a new investigation, the sight loss charity, Thomas Pocklington Trust (1), exposes multiple failings in the current provision of support for people with sight loss. The system is structured to offer short-term help, but can marginalise the very people it aims to support in the long term. People with sight loss feel abandoned says the study: The Changing Needs of People with Sight Loss (2) and, though support is available, a serious lack of information, referral, and follow-up leaves potentially thousands (3) struggling to cope alone.

“The long term support needs of people with sight loss aren’t being met,” says Dr. Clare Thetford, an author of the study. “Social, rehabilitative, financial and other supports may be available but they can be extremely difficult to access in the long term and at the time of need.”

The study, by the University of Liverpool, conducted 37 in-depth biographical interviews with visually impaired people. In addition, interviews with 18 sight loss professionals provided insights from inside the system. The study showed:

– Eye-care professionals can send the wrong message: Patients make no distinction between medical and other forms of care. When eye-care specialists say “there is nothing we can do”, they can put people off seeking other forms of support. As a result many struggle to cope alone because they lack awareness of what help is available. (4)

– No checks to halt the deterioration of eyesight: Long-term follow-up is not built into the system. This effectively prevents secondary causes of visual impairment from being detected and treated.

– Professionals fail to seize chance to intervene: Specialists such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, domiciliary carers and social workers didn’t have sufficient knowledge to help.

– Offers of support not reinforced: When first diagnosed with visual impairment people are often not ready to accept help. But this is the most common time for social support to be offered. With no routine follow-up people are often out of touch with the specialists before they realise the precise extent of their needs.

– System too complex to navigate: Overall the people in the study found statutory services confusing and difficult to access. Voluntary services were more accessible but in some areas they were more difficult to find out about.

– Full benefits of rehabilitation not being maximised: Only 8 out of 37 interviewed had completed a full programme of rehabilitation and mobility training, despite high levels of visual impairment and associated disability.

Says Dr. Angela McCullagh, Director of Research at Thomas Pocklington Trust, “The system for provision of services is just too passive. Lack of information, referral, and follow-up means that once the patient goes through the initial system he or she often ends up on the outside, unable to get back in.”

In a series of recommendations the study urges eye care professionals to forge links with social care providers and to use their first contact status to pass people on to other services.

The study also recommends that:

– eye clinics should automatically refer people to low-vision clinics and local sources of social support.

– long-term follow-up by social services should be a matter of routine.

– patients, even those diagnosed with untreatable degenerative eye conditions, should be encouraged to attend for community sight tests so that other eye conditions can be identified and monitored.

1. Thomas Pocklington Trust is a charity which aims to improve the quality of life of people with sight loss. It is a leading provider of housing, care and support services for people with sight loss in the UK, and is a major research and development body.

2. “The Changing Needs of People with Sight Loss” is available from: pocklington-trust from 17th February. The report is by Clare Thetford, Jude Robinson, Paul Knox, Jignasa Mehta and David Wong from the University of Liverpool. This university, a member of the Russell Group of UK research-intensive institutions, attracts research commissions valued at more than ??93 million annually.

3. A Medical Research Council study has estimated that serious sight loss affects 1:8 of people aged over 75; and 1:3 of people aged over 90. Using 2005 population data this means that around 600,000 people over 75 years old suffer serious sight loss. In addition some 2 million people in the UK are estimated to have sight loss that affects their everyday life. (Thomas Pocklington Trust. Prevalence, causes and impact of sight loss in older people in Britain. Occasional paper 8. London, Thomas Pocklington Trust, June 2006.)

4. The Changing Needs study included people who had lived with sight loss for a number of decades as well as those diagnosed more recently (a minimum of three years ago). As such, some of the experiences reported may not reflect current practice. However, the data reflects the realities of living with sight loss in contemporary Britain as those people diagnosed and registered in the past continue to live with their sight loss and to engage with vision-related services. More recent interviews confirm that the unbridged gap between medical and social care and support still very much exists and long term help remains difficult to access. A follow-up study is currently in the planning stage.

Thomas Pocklington Trust

InNexus Announces Discovery Of Novel Protein For AMD Eye Disorder – Will Bypass Needles With Topical Application

InNexus Biotechnology Inc., a drug development company commercializing the next generation of antibodies based on its groundbreaking Dynamic Cross Linking (DXL™) technology, today announced that it has developed IXS312(VEGF), an antibody fragment with activity against the growth factor VEGF for planned use in ocular treatments.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects more than 30 million people worldwide and is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60 years of age in the US. Speaking on the announcement, Jeff Morhet, InNexus CEO said, “This is a rapidly growing market with limited options for patients. Some treatments cost greater than $15,000 annually. Our product has a novel approach, unique drug design and simplified manufacturing (cost competitive) process. We are in active discussions with several potential development partners to commercialize IXS312 and products based on our technologies.”

“Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) is a chemical signal produced by cells that stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. Over-expression of VEGF can cause vascular disease in the retina of the eye and other parts of the body. InNexus’ protein research team developed IXS312 to treat ocular diseases, without invasive application steps such as direct injection into the eye,” said Dr. Thomas Kindt, InNexus CSO. “IXS312 is a small protein fragment intended for use as a topical therapy for AMD and diabetic retinal dysplasia. Our R&D program has made great progress. We originally modified the fragments to give them stability at body temperature, something very important for packaging and administration and then modified the IXS312 sequence to promote the passage of the product across cellular membrane layers. The recombinant IXS312 is expressed in good yield and was shown to be properly folded through its isolation and purification, binding its antigen target with high affinity. Development is ongoing.”

Earlier this year InNexus announced it developed a novel antibody fragment product, IXSCD11a, directed at treatment of psoriasis and produced by recombinant technology identical to IXS312(VEGF).

InNexus also announced today that it is currently in discussions with multiple parties to secure financing to continue the development of its lead product, DXL625, to the completion and filing of an Investigational New Drug application (IND) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as communicated during InNexus’ successful meeting with the FDA in March 2009. The filing of an IND for DXL625, estimated to take 18 months following funding, triggers a payment from one of InNexus’ commercial partners.

InNexus Biotechnology

Crystalens HD™ Receives FDA Approval

Bausch & Lomb announced that it has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market the Crystalens HD™ in the United States. Crystalens accommodating intraocular lens (IOL) was first approved by the FDA in November 2003. The Crystalens HD is the fourth generation of the only FDA approved accommodating lens.

The surface of the Crystalens HD has been shaped to enhance the depth of focus with a proprietary optical modification. The enhanced optic provides an increased depth of focus which is designed to improve near vision without compromising intermediate or distance vision. The HD lens does this without inducing increased undesirable dysphotopsia or night vision symptoms.

A total of 125 primary eyes were implanted with the Crystalens HD in patients who had a visually significant cataract, less than 1 diopter of corneal astigmatism, and the potential for best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) of 20/25 or better in both eyes. Of these patients, 80% reported vision at J2 or better at four (4) months.

“Extensive market research has clearly indicated that patients and surgeons alike are asking for a truly accommodating IOL as their choice of lens. With these results, where patients reported getting one more line of near vision, we are coming ever closer to meeting the desired need for an optic that does provide truly good near vision without compromising the quality of vision at intermediate or distance,” said Michael Judy, vice president of global marketing – Surgical.

Dr. John Hovanesian was a Principal Investigator in the FDA study. Dr. Hovanesian serves as Clinical Instructor at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA in California and is in private practice at Harvard Eye Associates in Laguna Hills, California.

“If I were a patient having cataract surgery, I would want an IOL that projects a single point of focus and also provides a broad range of distance, intermediate and near vision. The Crystalens HD is the best available lens to achieve that goal,” said Dr. Hovanesian. “There is no question that the HD will be my lens of choice for presbyopia correction in patients with cataracts.”

Bausch & Lomb officials said that surgeons will be instructed to continue to use the same surgical protocols for the Crystalens HD as they have used in the past. The Company has said that it will begin shipping the Crystalens HD the week of July 7th.

About Crystalens HD

Crystalens HD is a product developed by Bausch & Lomb. To learn more about Crystalens HD, please visit crystalens.

About Bausch & Lomb

Bausch & Lomb is an eye health company dedicated to perfecting vision and enhancing life. Bausch & Lomb offers the world’s most comprehensive portfolio of eye health products. The Company has one of the oldest, best known and most respected healthcare brands in the world. Bausch & Lomb offers a full suite of products in cataract and vitreoretinal surgery including intraocular lenses and delivery systems, phacomulsification equipment and other surgical instruments and devices.

Bausch & Lomb

Double Agent: Glial Cells Can Protect Or Kill Neurons, Vision

Scientists have identified a double agent in the eye that, once triggered, can morph from neuron protector to neuron killer. The discovery has significant health implications since the neurons killed through this process results in vision loss and blindness.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), are collaboration between the Universit?� de Montreal, McGill University and the Montreal Neurological Institute in Canada and the Universit?� de Namur in Belgium. The researchers show how an unusual molecule, called proNGF, activates glial cells that normally protect neurons in the retina and brain.

“We found that glial cells attack and kill neurons after being triggered by proNGF,” says coauthor Dr. Philip Barker, a neuroscientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute and a professor at the McGill Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. “Since glial cells normally protect neurons, we were surprised to find that proNGF can convert glial cells into killers that cause neuron death in the retina.”

Coauthor Dr. Adriana Di Polo, a professor at the Universit?� de Montr?�al Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, compares the proNGF molecule to a cell hijacker. “Before this study, we didn’t know what physiological role the proNGF molecule played in the eye,” she says. “We now propose that, following brain damage or neurodegenerative diseases, proNGF alters the glial cell network to change its function. Rather than protecting neurons, proNGF makes the glial cells attack neurons.”

Scientists must now pay more attention to the damage proNGF can trigger. “Once retinal neurons die, they are gone forever and the permanent loss of these cells causes blindness,” warns Dr. Di Polo

“The next step for researchers is to explore whether proNGF signals can be controlled”, says Fr?�d?�ric Lebrun-Julien, first author and a PhD student at the Universit?� de Montr?�al’s Department of Pathology and Cell Biology.

Dr. Barker concurs. “If we can block factors induced by proNGF, we can protect neurons that would normally be lost. We think these findings may eventually translate into clinical benefits in diseases such as glaucoma.”

Partners in research

The study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds de Recherche en Sant?� du Qu?�bec.

About the study

The paper, “ProNGF induces TNF?�-dependent death of retinal ganglion cells through a p75NTR non-cell-autonomous signaling pathway,” published in the journal PNAS, was authored by Fr?�d?�ric Lebrun-Julien and Adriana Di Polo of the Universit?� de Montr?�al; Olivier De Backer of the Universit?� de Namur in Belgium; David Stellwagen, Mathieu J. Bertrand, Carlos R. Morales and Philip A. Barker of the Montreal Neurological Institute / McGill University.

Universit?� de Montr?�al