Blocking Neurodegeneration By Radiation And Bone Marrow Transfer Prevents Inherited Glaucoma In Mice

In a discovery that could point to new treatments for a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases, Jackson Laboratory researchers have found that high-dose radiation and bone marrow transfer treatments on glaucoma-susceptible mice completely blocked the development of glaucoma, by preventing neurodegeneration. Glaucomas are among the most common neurodegenerative diseases, and a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Many patients with glaucoma have high intraocular pressure (IOP), long believed to be a cause of the degeneration of the optic nerve and nerve cells in the retina that leads to vision loss. The standard treatment for glaucoma is reducing the intraocular pressure by medication or surgery. However, researchers have also observed that some patients with elevated IOP do not develop optic nerve and retinal damage, while others do incur damage despite relatively normal IOP. "It's increasingly clear," says Dr. Simon W.M. John, leader of the Jackson Laboratory research team and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, "that multiple mechanisms are at work in this disease." John and researchers elsewhere have identified several genes associated with glaucomas. They have also developed inherited mouse glaucoma models that reliably develop glaucoma in mid-life. One of these models is the DBA/2J mouse.

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