NEW JERSEY MEDICAL SCHOOL

THE INSTITUTE OF OPHTHALMOLOGY AND VISUAL SCIENCE

 

BASIC SCIENCE RESEARCH

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RETINA & VITREOUS
 
Ms. Ilene Sugino directs the Center for macular degeneration treatment and researchThe Ocular Cell Transplantation Laboratory is the basic science research division of the Center for Macular Degeneration Treatment and Research. The laboratory is directed by Ms. Ilene Sugino and is focused on the development of transplantation technology for the treatment of various ocular conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.
 
Synaptic Function and Regeneration of Neurons in the Eye
Ellen Townes-Anderson, PhD
Dr. Townes-Anderson is using an in vitro system to examine synaptic function and regeneration of the mature central nervous system. We isolate functional, fully differentiated neurons from the adult vertebrate eye and maintain them in defined culture conditions. Sensory neurons, short interneurons, and projection neurons are all able to regrow neurites and reform functional synapses in vitro. Projects are currently under way to determine the specificity of synapse reformation, the effects of calcium and other second messengers on this regeneration, the signal transduction pathways that control cytoskeletal reorganization and changes in gene expression, and the effects of aging on regenerative capabilities. Much of the work is done on photoreceptors, since degeneration of these sensory neurons is a major cause of blindness. The techniques used include cell culture, immunocytochemistry, a variety of light microscopic techniques (including confocal laser scanning microscopy), electron microscopy, video-time-lapse photography, image processing, in-situ hybridization, and Northern blots. Recently, Dr. Anderson's group began using a new micromanipulation technique—optical tweezers—to form specific groups of interacting neurons in culture. In the long term, the goal of this work is not only to better understand the capabilities of central synapses, but also to use this information to suggest clinical solutions for central nervous system repair and transplantation.

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