The Glaucoma Genetics lab has been awarded a grant from the National Eye Institute to study glaucoma caused by the TBK1 gene using a stem cell approach. The two year R21 grant entitled “TBK1-Related Glaucoma” will provide resources for the lab to collect skin cells from patients with low pressure glaucoma caused by a TBK1 gene defect. These skin cells will be reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells which then will be used to produce cells that have features of the optic nerve - the tissue damaged by glaucoma. This study will allow Glaucoma Genetics Lab members to study the steps by which defects in the TBK1 gene damage the optic nerve and cause glaucoma. Moreover these studies will also lay the groundwork for testing new treatments for TBK1-related glaucoma as well as developing restorative optic nerve therapies.
Key Investigators in this project are John Fingert and Budd Tucker and their post-doctoral fellow Tasneem Sharma.