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Research

A focus on research

Funding research is at the heart of The Vision For Tomorrow Foundation. Research makes it possible to better understand and more effectively treat the conditions that affect individuals with albinism or aniridia. Funding research allows us to envision a world where these conditions may be cured — or even prevented.  We work closely with leading researchers in the field to identify treatments or preventions with the greatest impact on quality of life.

Vision for Tomorrow is the only Foundation in the United States funding oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) research and one of the few supporting aniridia specific research.

We are constantly working with scientists to better understand the ever-evolving discoveries in ophthalmology, genetics, biology and beyond to further advance work to better understand and improve challenges for those with low vision.

Research can be timely and costly so we are constantly working to raise funds to help drive new research.  Please read more about our work and please consider a donation to help us further along our findings.

Our Research

Gene dosage manipulation alleviates manifestations of hereditary PAX6 haploinsufficiency in miceThe Vision for Tomorrow Foundation continues to partner with Ali Djalilian, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology on his ongoing investigations to improve cornea health for those with aniridia and other cornea trauma. Dr. Djalilian is the Director, Stem Cell Therapy and Corneal Tissue Engineering Laboratory at the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Most recently he looked at the possibility of a normal copy of a paired gene being enhanced to make up for the non-functional copy. His groundbreaking work was published in the medical journal “Science Translational Medicine”, entitled “Gene dosage manipulation alleviates manifestations of hereditary PAX6 haploinsufficiency in mice”.  VFT helped to make this work possible with a financial grant.  Please consider a donation to VFT to fuel more important scientific findings that can help to better understand and more effectively treat ocular complications related to aniridia and albinism. 

Defining Structure Function Relationships in Albinism
In a special collaboration, the Vision for Tomorrow Foundation is funding a joint project between Joseph Carroll, PhD, Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin.  The team will work to establish a more comprehensive, quantitative neurophysiological explanation of visual deficits in albinism and provide a framework for understanding the potential of emerging therapies. This will provide a basis for understanding the etiology of albinism and will assist in developing selection criteria to match patients with the most effective therapies tailored to their individual anatomic characteristics.

Elucidating the Causes of Glaucoma Associated with Aniridia: Links to Metabolism and Beyond
The Vision for Tomorrow Foundation began a partnership with Peter A. Netland, MD, PhD, and Robert M. Grainger, PhD, both at the University of Virginia to better understand glaucoma associated with aniridia. The multi-part ongoing research addressed few questions: 1. Is the acquisition of glaucoma linked to change in metabolic status in children/young adults? No obvious correlation between at least some key metabolic parameters and glaucoma status in aniridic patients was found. 2. Can the aniridic frog model tell us more about the acquisition of defects in the anterior chamber of the eye associated with glaucoma? This work continues today.
VFT and NEI Partner to Identify Potential Treatments for OCA Patients 
Vision for Tomorrow is proud to partner with the National Eye Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to fund a study attempting to identify drugs that will improve vision in people with oculocutaneous albinism (OCA). This study is being led by Dr. Brian Brooks of the NEI, a renowned researcher in the field of OCA. In this study, the stem cells will be converted to RPE cells. These cells are normally pigmented in individuals not affected by OCA but lack pigmentation in individuals with OCA. Dr. Brooks and his team will be looking to identify drugs that can induce pigmentation in these cells without otherwise interfering with their normal functionality.
Click here to learn more.
START THERAPY
In December 2013, The Vision for Tomorrow Foundation proudly announced the funding of the first clinical trial based on START Therapy.  Following some initial delays, the researchers leading the trial along with PTC Therapeutics confirmed at The Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual meeting this week that the human clinical study would begin later this year. The proof-of-concept study will take place in the United States and Canada. This is the first-ever pharmaceutical approach for patients with aniridia caused by a PAX6 nonsense mutation. The initial study was developed Dr. Cheryl Gregory-Evans, PhD and Dr. Kevin Gregory Gregory-Evans MD PhD at the University of British Columbia for the potential prevention and reversal of aniridia-related congenital eye malformations.  Read more here.
Clinical Translation of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Trophic Factors for the Corneal Disease in Aniridia
Ali Djalilian, MD. Cornea health is often compromised over time in patients with aniridia due to limbal stem cell deficiencies. In this study Dr. Djalilian is exploring the use of a mesenchymal stem cell drop to improve the environment, or niche, in which the limbal stem cells live.  By taking factors that cells in the niche normally produce and introducing them to the niche in the eye with aniridia, we hope to maintain or improve the limbal stem cell function, thus preserving the state of the cornea. The goal is to provide an alternate and less invasive treatment option to preserve corneal health in aniridia patients To read more about this study and Dr. Djalilian, click here.
The Role of DHA in Nystagmus
Joost Felius, PhD. What if dietary fatty acids had an effect on the severity of nystagmus in children? With support from The Vision for Tomorrow Foundation, this study focuses on the role of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, which conceivably may reduce the severity of nystagmus. In the first phase of this study, DHA levels are being measured and compared to the nystagmus severity.

Past Research

Novel Topical Treatments in Pax6 Mutant Mice and Mice with Albinism
Principal Investigator: Arlene Drack, MD, Associate Professor in Pediatric Ophthalmic Genetics at the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Using ERG as an endpoint for drug efficacy in partners with aniridia and albinism
Principal Investigator: Arlene Drack, MD, Associate Professor in Pediatric Ophthalmic Genetics at the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Use of Providone-Iodine in treatment of Trachoma, a Leading Cause of Infectious Blindness
Principal Investigator: Sherwin Isenberg, M.D., Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA

Clinical Trial to Evaluate Levodopa as Treatment to Improve Vision in Individuals with Albinism
Principal Investigators: Carol G. Summers, M.D., University of Minnesota and Murray Brilliant, PhD, Director of Human Genetics, Marshfield Clinic, Wisconsin

Correction of Albinism Mutations by Targeted Genomic Rearrangement
Principal Investigator: Murray Brilliant, PhD, Professor in Genetics, University of Arizona

Search for new Genes Causing Albinism in Israeli Populations
Principal Investigator: Irene Anteby, M.D., Director, Center for Pediatric Ophthalmology, Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem

Assessing the Role of the PAX6 Gene in Aniridia
Principal Investigator: James D. Lauderdale, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Cellular Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Georgia

Assessing Foveal Anatomy in Albinism and Aniridia Using High Resolution Retinal Imaging
Principal Investigator: Joseph Carroll, PhD, The Medical College of Wisconsin

Assessment of a Novel Treatment for Albinism
Principal Investigator: Brian S. McKay, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Arizona

Correction of Albinism Mutations by Targeted Genomic Rearrangement: Phase II
Principal Investigator: Murray Brilliant, PhD, Professor in Genetics, University of Arizona

Assessment of a Novel Treatment for Albinism: Phase II
Principal Investigator: Brian S. McKay, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Arizona

Support of Optic Program at Cincinnati Eye Institute
Principal Investigator: Edward Holland, M.D

Genes Controlling the Uncrossed Projection of Retinal Ganglion Cells in Pigmented and Albino Mice
Principal Investigator: Carol Mason, PhD, Professor Department of Pathology and Cellular Biology, Columbia University

Design and Fabrication of a Wide Angle 3x Array Telescope
Principal Investigator: Milton Katz, OD, Professor, State University of New York

Apply for a Grant

The Vision for Tomorrow Foundation is pleased to provide funding to qualified researchers whose research matches our needs.

To apply for a grant, you must first qualify and then send us a short Letter of Intent.  Qualifications include:
  • Be a clinical researcher, medical doctor, scientist, or clinically-trained professional
  • Hold a relevant advanced degree (M.D., O.D. and/or Ph.D.) and have completed all research training
  • Have an affiliation with a recognized hospital, university, clinic or laboratoryIf you are a qualified researcher in need of funding, please apply.

Letters of Intent are welcome at any time and will be reviewed when received.

For more information regarding grant opportunities or requirements, please email [email protected]
Download Letter of Intent Application
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