Investigating how to regenerate the optic nerve

Research details

  • Type of funding: Project Grant
  • Grant Holder: Professor Keith Martin
  • Institute: University of Cambridge
  • Region: London
  • Start date: June 2022
  • End Date: October 2025
  • Priority: Treatment
  • Eye Category: Glaucoma
Brief lay background

The study will develop new methods to reconnect the eye to the brain after damage to the optic nerve and glaucoma.

Various conditions damage the optic nerve and make the nerve fibres within it degenerate. For good restoration of vision these nerve fibres have to be made to regenerate.

There are now treatments that preserve the retinal ganglion cells that connect the retina to the brain. Further steps to these preservation treatments to make the damaged nerve fibres regenerate back to the brain are required.

The treatments are molecules that have been proven to stimulate nerve fibre regeneration in the brain or spinal cord, or have been successful in tissue culture investigations.

What problem/knowledge gap does it help address

The study will start to develop a new translational model to investigate nerve fibre regeneration as a treatment following glaucoma.

Aim of the research project

To investigate new regeneration treatments to promote regeneration of nerve fibres between the optic nerve and the brain.

Key procedures/objectives
  1. Investigate if neuroprotective proteins exist.
  2. Investigate combined treatments that can increase effectiveness for regeneration.
  3. Determine side effects that may result from this treatment.
  4. Develop an experimental method for testing regeneration treatments for glaucoma.
Potential impact on people with sight loss

The findings from the research will be a step towards achieving full reconnection of the eye and the brain after eye or optic nerve damage. Eventually these and related findings could deliver a treatment that will enable recovery of sight after optic nerve damage, glaucoma or eye transplantation.