Vision research has often led to significant advances in our understanding of biology. There has also been particular success in translating basic research in the eye into breakthrough clinical therapies that mark important milestones for ophthalmology and also for medical research. Anti-VEGF therapy for age-related macular degeneration was named as one of the top ten science advancements of the year 2006. Only two years later, successful transfer of the RPE65 gene into retinal pigment epithelium of patients with Leber congenital amaurosis was noted as one of the most important clinical applications of gene therapy. The articles in this Review series outline current developments in vision research and highlight its continued importance in ophthalmology and medicine.
Andreas Stahl, Lois E.H. Smith
Autoimmune and inflammatory uveitis are a group of potentially blinding intraocular inflammatory diseases that arise without a known infectious trigger and are often associated with immunological responses to unique retinal proteins. In the United States, about 10% of the cases of severe visual handicap are attributed to this group of disorders. As I discuss here, experimental models of ocular autoimmunity targeting retinal proteins have brought about a better understanding of the basic immunological mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of uveitis and are serving as templates for the development of novel therapies.
Rachel R. Caspi
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a major complication of preterm birth. It encompasses a spectrum of pathologies that affect vision, from mild disease that resolves spontaneously to severe disease that causes retinal detachment and subsequent blindness. The pathologies are characterized by an arrest in normal retinal vascular development associated with microvascular degeneration. The resulting ischemia and retinal hypoxia lead to excessive abnormal compensatory blood vessel growth. However, this neovascularization can lead to fibrous scar formation and culminate in retinal detachment. Present therapeutic modalities to limit the adverse consequences of aberrant neovascularization are invasive and/or tissue-destructive. In this Review, we discuss current concepts on retinal microvascular degeneration, neovascularization, and available treatments, as well as present future perspectives toward more profound elucidation of the pathogenesis of ROP.
Przemyslaw Sapieha, Jean-Sebastien Joyal, José Carlos Rivera, Elsa Kermorvant-Duchemin, Florian Sennlaub, Pierre Hardy, Pierre Lachapelle, Sylvain Chemtob
Through a series of complex transformations, the pixel-like input to the retina is converted into rich visual perceptions that constitute an integral part of visual recognition. Multiple visual problems arise due to damage or developmental abnormalities in the cortex of the brain. Here, we provide an overview of how visual information is processed along the ventral visual cortex in the human brain. We discuss how neurophysiological recordings in macaque monkeys and in humans can help us understand the computations performed by visual cortex.
Julie Blumberg, Gabriel Kreiman
Dramatic advances in the field of stem cell research have raised the possibility of using these cells to treat a variety of diseases. The eye is an excellent target organ for such cell-based therapeutics due to its ready accessibility, the prevalence of vasculo- and neurodegenerative diseases affecting vision, and the availability of animal models to demonstrate proof of concept. In fact, stem cell therapies have already been applied to the treatment of disease affecting the ocular surface, leading to preservation of vision. Diseases in the back of the eye, such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and inherited retinal degenerations, present greater challenges, but rapidly emerging stem cell technologies hold the promise of autologous grafts to stabilize vision loss through cellular replacement or paracrine rescue effects.
Valentina Marchetti, Tim U. Krohne, David F. Friedlander, Martin Friedlander
Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness worldwide, is characterized by progressive optic nerve damage, usually associated with intraocular pressure. Although the clinical progression of the disease is well defined, the molecular events responsible for glaucoma are currently poorly understood and current therapeutic strategies are not curative. This review summarizes the human genetics and genomic approaches that have shed light on the complex inheritance of glaucoma genes and the potential for gene-based and cellular therapies that this research makes possible.
Bao Jian Fan, Janey L. Wiggs
Understanding the genetic origin of cancer at the molecular level has facilitated the development of novel targeted therapies. Aberrant activation of the ErbB family of receptors is implicated in many human cancers and is already the target of several anticancer therapeutics. The use of mAbs specific for the extracellular domain of ErbB receptors was the first implementation of rational targeted therapy. The cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase domain is also a preferred target for small compounds that inhibit the kinase activity of these receptors. However, current therapy has not yet been optimized, allowing for opportunities for optimization of the next generation of targeted therapy, particularly with regards to inhibiting heteromeric ErbB family receptor complexes.
Hongtao Zhang, Alan Berezov, Qiang Wang, Geng Zhang, Jeffrey Drebin, Ramachandran Murali, Mark I. Greene
Cytokine production by the immune system contributes importantly to both health and disease. The nervous system, via an inflammatory reflex of the vagus nerve, can inhibit cytokine release and thereby prevent tissue injury and death. The efferent neural signaling pathway is termed the cholinergic antiinflammatory pathway. Cholinergic agonists inhibit cytokine synthesis and protect against cytokine-mediated diseases. Stimulation of the vagus nerve prevents the damaging effects of cytokine release in experimental sepsis, endotoxemia, ischemia/reperfusion injury, hemorrhagic shock, arthritis, and other inflammatory syndromes. Herein is a review of this physiological, functional anatomical mechanism for neurological regulation of cytokine-dependent disease that begins to define an immunological homunculus.
Kevin J. Tracey
The deiodinases activate or inactivate thyroid hormone, and their importance in thyroid hormone homeostasis has become increasingly clear with the availability of deiodinase-deficient animals. At the same time, heightened interest in the field has been generated following the discovery that the type 2 deiodinase can be an important component in both the Hedgehog signaling pathway and the G protein–coupled bile acid receptor 1–mediated (GPBAR1-mediated) signaling cascade. The discovery of these new roles for the deiodinases indicates that tissue-specific deiodination plays a much broader role than once thought, extending into the realms of developmental biology and metabolism.
Antonio C. Bianco, Brian W. Kim
The urgent need for better cancer treatments has stimulated interest in employing small-animal models to evaluate potential drug therapies. Robust mouse models of many human cancers have been generated using sophisticated technologies for engineering germ-line mutations. As we enter into an age of targeted therapeutics, these strains provide novel platforms for validating new anticancer drugs, assessing therapeutic index, identifying surrogate markers of tumor progression, and defining epigenetic and environmental influences on tumorigenesis.
David H. Gutmann, Kim Hunter-Schaedle, Kevin M. Shannon
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