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VFT and UVA Continue Partnership to Further Understand Early Eye Development in Aniridia and Albinism

VFT and UVA Continue Partnership to Further Understand Early Eye Development in Aniridia and Albinism

The Vision for Tomorrow Foundation (VFT) is excited to support ongoing work and first-of-its-kind research with the University of Virginia (UVA) to understand initial steps in eye formation and the consequences for aniridia and albinism.

Previous studies VFT helped to fund led scientists at UVA to develop new genetic technology for their frog model system to provide novel insights into the mechanisms by which Pax6 works in normal development and, when mutated to cause aniridia. They found evidence that the mutation disturbs the normal genetic “circuits” that Pax6 is hypothesized to control.  

VFT is offering additional support to capitalize on this progress to help define these circuits in different parts of the eye. 

“Our data suggests there are differences, for example, between the circuit in the lens of the eye and in the retina,” said Robert Grainger, PhD, the W.L. Lyons Brown Professor of Biology at UVA and lead researcher on the project.  “The implication here for a clinical setting is that it may be important to devise treatments that differ for different tissues because of the variations in how the Pax6 gene works in each one.”

The Grainger lab will continue its research on albinism with a newly created frog model for the OCA2 mutation. This work is being conducted in consultation with other leading researchers.  These studies will test the idea that altering the internal chemistry of the eye offers the possibility to circumvent the OCA2 mutation to “correct” this lesion without having to attempt to genetically correct the OCA2 mutation itself. While this work is still in exploratory stages, the new frog model allows unique access to understanding different treatments in a more straightforward manner not possible in other animal systems.

“Investing additional resources into these studies will help to build on promising innovative findings to help further understand and potentially treat aniridia and albinism, which is core to the VFT mission,” said Susan Wolfe, President, VFT.

This VFT funded research would not be possible without the generous support of VFT donors and volunteers.  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. 



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