NIH funds teams to find biological factors of neural regeneration
The NIH has granted $12.4 million in funds that will last the next three years. The ultimate goal is to reverse blindness, and it is part of the National Eye Institute (NEI) Audacious Goals Initiative.
Typically, irreversible blindness happens when the retina (the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye) loses neurons. Most eye diseases, like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy can cause this blindness. When retina neuron cells are destroyed, human beings don’t have the ability to regrow them.
Each of these six projects will improve how scientists understand several different, important aspects of human eyesight and blindness. Most recently, scientists found a new technique that improves retinal axons’ regenerative capacity after optic nerve injury, which may signal hope for patients with glaucoma and similar optic neuropathies.
“Understanding factors that mediate the regeneration of neurons and the growth of axons is crucial for the development of breakthrough therapies for blinding diseases,” NEI Director Dr. Paul Sieving said. “What we learn through these projects will have a health impact beyond vision.”