Northwestern University Receives NIH Grant for Investigating Nanoscale Neuronal Damages in Early Glaucoma Towards Clinical Optical Detection
Northwestern University Receives a 2019 NIH Grant for $535,063 for Investigating Nanoscale Neuronal Damages in Early Glaucoma Towards Clinical Optical Detection. The principal investigator is Hao Zhang. The program began in 2018 and ends in 2022. Below is a summary of the proposed work.
Our long-term goal is to develop new functional extensions of optical coherence tomography (vis-OCT) for clinical diagnosis and management of glaucoma. Glaucoma is characterized by a progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and optic nerve defects and atrophy, afflicting more than 60 million people worldwide. It is often develops slowly with symptoms and damage that are not noticed at early stage. Caring for those with glaucomatous vision disability poses a huge burden on the US health care system. Early detection and screening techniques at asymptomatic stage is thus of critical importance for better management of the disease and will have paramount clinical and economic impacts. In this proposal, the power of the ultrahigh axial resolution (~1 µm) will be harnessed and the increased optical contrast sensitivity offered by visible-light OCT (vis-OCT) to investigate the mechanism of optically detectable alterations underlying early retinal ganglion cell (RGC) damage in mouse models of experimental glaucoma. The proposed study will serve as the foundation for objective and sensitive early clinical diagnosis of glaucoma using OCT. First, the investigators will establish vis-OCT methodology to detect RGC and axon damage using an acute mouse model of nerve crush injury. Then, the investigators will determine physiological origin of vis-OCT detected RGC ultrastructural alterations in a chronic model of experimental glaucoma. Finally, the investigators will determine that vis-OCT detected RGC ultrastructural alterations proceeds the structural and functional metrics used for clinical glaucoma diagnoses in a chronic model of experimental glaucoma.