Yale team to search for ways to restore vision to the blind

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Researchers from Yale University will be among six teams seeking to reverse blindness by spurring neural regeneration in the retina, the National Institutes of Health announced Sept. 1.

The projects are part of the National Eye Institute (NEI) Audacious Goals Initiative, which has targeted $12.4 million over three years, pending availability of funds, to restore vision in those who have lost neurons in the retina, an irreversible form of blindness.

At Yale, Dr. Stephen Strittmatter, the Vincent Coates Professor of Neurology and professor of neuroscience, will head an effort to search for genes that contribute to regeneration of axons from retinal ganglion cells. The team will start from 450 candidate genes to see if they regenerate tissue in a mouse model of optic nerve injury. The strongest gene candidates will then be analyzed in greater detail to better understand their molecular action.

“Understanding factors that mediate the regeneration of neurons and the growth of axons is crucial for the development of breakthrough therapies for blinding diseases. What we learn through these projects will have a health impact beyond vision,” said Dr. Paul A. Sieving, director of NEI.

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Bill Hathaway: william.hathaway@yale.edu, 203-432-1322