Projects relating to physiopathology of neurodegenerative diseases
PROJECT 1. LIGHT AS AN ADDITIONAL RISK FACTOR IN NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES OF THE RETINA.
Glaucoma and DMAE are pathologies that exhibit the involvement of highly specialised cell-types with very high energetic requirements. In order to satisfy this demand, both lymph node cells in the retina and the photoreceptors exhibit a high concentration of mitochondria in their plasma. The mitochondria are responsible for regulating the energy metabolism of eukaryote cells, although they also play an important role in signalling channels, cellular differentiation, proliferation and cell death.
At a cellular level, several authors have shown mitochondrial involvement in these pathologies. The causes inherent to neurodegenerative diseases such glaucoma or DMAE are several, although the most prominent are oxidative stress. Mitochondrial dysfunction and excitoxicity.
The group for Neurobiology of the Retina studies and analyses the role that mitochondria perform in the maintenance of cell integrity and its involvement in the neurodegenerative diseases studies. Furthermore, this team has proven and continues to obtain information on how exposure to light, and more specifically the blue element (of short wave lengths) affects in a negative manner, the different cell-types of the retina.
PROJECT 6. IN VITRO STUDY OF THE FUNCTIONALITY OF THE PIGMENTARY RETINA EPITHELIUM IN RELATION TO THE FUNCTION OF THE MTHFR ENZYME.Head Researcher: Ms. Beatriz Fernández-Vega Sanz
Head Researcher: Ms. Beatriz Fernández-Vega Sanz. Mehylentetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is a very important enzyme for the regeneration of methionine, to the point that, due to mutations in the MTHFR gene it codes, its deficiency alters its activity with repercussions on both the metabolism of homocysteine and in the metabolism of neurotransmitters and other metabolic reactions. In clinical practice, it has been observed, that a large number of patients sharing a series of common retinal dysfunctions related to the pigmentary epithelium of the retina (EPR), exhibited this mutation. Among the dysfunctions, the accumulation of sub-retinal fluid.
EPR is a polarised cellular mono-layer which features great metabolic activity, essential to the visual circuit. Each cell in the EPR is closely connected to its adjacent cells, forming an external haemo-retinal barrier, vital for development, survival and physiological activity of the visual cells.
This project aims to characterise the various functions in a line of pigmentary retinal epithelium with the goal of evaluating the effect, that the enzyme MTHFR has on them, as well as the relationship with the concentration of the amino acid methionine and of other compounds in the metabolic route affected by the mutation.
Projects relating to neuro-protection in ocular pathologies
PROJECT 1. MOLECULAR BASES OF THE NEUROPROTECTIVE EFFECT OF RED LIGHT.
Studies carried out by the research team have shown the neuro-protective effect of exposure to a certain type of red light, in regards to lesions that may take place in pathologies such as glaucoma, observing the capability of red light to increase the survival rate of the cells predominantly affected in this disease. The potential therapeutic effect of red light is also being analysed at the present time for other pathologies of the eye.
Although research carried out shows a beneficial effect of treatment with the red light tested, little is known at present, of the underlying mechanisms. For this reason, the group for Neurobiology of the Retina also studies the various molecular mechanisms that may be activated. Familiarity with the changes taking place at a sub-cellular level taking place in the cell in the event of a lesion or when the cell protects itself from it, gives way to new avenues of research for the attainment of more specific approaches.
PROJECT 2. NEUROPROTECTION IN THE RETINA BY MEANS OF TORES DE CRECIMIENTO (PRGF).PRGF is an autologous serum rich in growth factors, obtained from blood of the same patient. Several studies have shown that this serum has clear beneficial effects on ocular regeneration and ocular proliferation, among other positive effects.
The study set forth by the research team aims to clarify whether PRGF may act as a neuro-protective agent in the retina, besides its possible use in the field of regeneration, starting from certain neuron strains.
PROJECT 3. DEVELOPMENT OF LUMINESCENT NANOMATERIALS FOR NEUROPROTECTION AND NANOTHERAPY OF OCULAR PATHOLOGIES IN AN EXPERIMENTAL MODEL OF RETINA LESION FROM LIGHT. RETINETA PROJECT. CHALLENGES OF SOCIETY 2014.RETINETA is a project partially financed on a state level, within the framework of the national Programa Estatal de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación Orientada a los Retos de la Sociedad, aimed towards the challenges of society and as part of the Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación furthered by the Ministry of Finance and Competitiveness.
In this project the Retina Neurobiology Group of Fundación de Investigación Oftalmológica, goes in hand with the Instituto Oftalmológico Fernández-Vega and the Asturian Fundación ITMA. The project’s goal is the development of new systems in neuro-protection for the retina, with the use of the latest technological advances available.