Glaucoma causes blindness in more than 70 million people worldwide. A major causal risk factor for glaucoma is the elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP). An increased resistance to the drainage of aqueous humor (the clear fluid filling the front of the eye) from the anterior chamber of the eye causes IOP elevation. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying both IOP elevation and aqueous humor drainage remain unknown. My goal is to fill this gap in knowledge. Using novel genetic tools,modern techniques and a variety of mouse lines, I am presently determining the molecular mechanism of aqueous humor outflow through the Schlemm’s canal (SC), a critical component of the pressure-dependent conventional outflow pathway. We have developed novel techniques and tools to measure outflow and study the SC at a cellular level. Using these tools we have already recently discovered that the SC is a unique vessel that has both lymphatic and blood vessel like characteristics. We are currently exploiting this new finding to obtain information regarding the molecular mechanisms of IOP elevation that can be leveraged to design new therapeutic interventions to prevent glaucoma.
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