Targeting Eye Immune Cells to Prevent Glaucoma-Induced Nerve Damage

Principal Investigator

University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
Recipient of the 2023 Thomas R. Lee Award for Glaucoma Research


  • Karsten  Gronert, PhD

    Karsten Gronert, PhD

Project Goals

The aim of this project is to learn how immune cells in the eye contribute to nerve damage in glaucoma and test molecules that might prevent it.

Project Summary

The high fluid pressures in the eye with glaucoma can damage the optic nerve, which transmits signals from the retina to the brain. Microglia are immune cells in the retina that contribute to this injury quite early on through their responses to inflammation. Shubham Maurya, PhD, and his colleagues are working with naturally occurring small molecules that may dampen this reaction from the microglia.

For this work, they plan to use lab models to test how these small molecules put the brakes on microglia. With cutting-edge molecular tools, the researchers will pinpoint exactly when microglia start showing this damaging reaction and how the transition to damage mode takes place. Part of this work will involve sorting out how other support cells in the retina called astrocytes produce these small molecules and usually keep microglia in check.

The results are predicted to offer insights into the early events that lead to damage by microglia and the role of astrocytes in limiting this response. Dr. Maurya and his coworkers expect the findings to highlight new candidate treatment approaches for glaucoma.


First published on: September 12, 2023

Last modified on: May 22, 2024