Building a Better Model to Screen for Intraocular Pressure-Lowering Glaucoma Drugs
The cells that affect the rate of fluid drainage from the eye likely have a role in glaucoma, which involves pressure from fluid buildup. The cells that act as gatekeepers of fluid outflow are called Schlemm's canal cells. Darryl Overby, PhD, and his colleagues plan to focus on these cells to learn more about their role in damaging fluid buildup in glaucoma. They expect their findings to spotlight new treatment targets in the disease.
To gain a deep understanding of these cells, Dr. Overby will recreate their natural environment in the lab and use this model to test how the cells form a barrier to fluid outflow. The lab model they develop also will serve as a tool for testing candidate treatments. It is expected to overcome limitations of other models relying on cultured cells because it will recapitulate the natural environment around Schlemm's canal cells. In this way, researchers can capture how the cells' interaction with their environment affects their barrier formation behaviors.
This understanding, in turn, will offer targets for drugs or other therapies that can interfere with barrier formation or reverse it for restoration of fluid outflow from the eye. Dr. Overby and his team will root this novel model in bioengineering tools. They expect to generate a research model that will support faster evaluation and transition of candidate drugs to clinical testing for glaucoma.