Jun 30, 2021

FBC-funded researcher studies photoreceptor cell metabolism in RP

Profile image of Dr. Peter Campochiaro

Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC) is pleased to be supporting Dr. Peter Campochiaro’s (Wilmer Eye Institute, John Hopkins University) research into retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Dr. Campochiaro is a world-renowned clinician-scientist whose research program involves developing new treatments and leading clinical trials to identify new therapies for different types of retinal eye diseases including diabetic macular edema, wet age-related macular degeneration, and RP.

In this FBC-funded study, Dr. Campochiaro is studying how metabolic changes impact photoreceptor cell survival in RP. In RP and other inherited retinal diseases (IRDs), vision loss occurs when photoreceptors, the light sensing cells in the retina begin to die. Dr. Campochiaro believes that one of the reasons photoreceptor cells die is because their metabolism (i.e. how they produce energy) is dysregulated.

Cells need energy so that they can function, grow, and survive. Cells extract energy from sugars, such as glucose and there are different ways that the extraction can occur, some ways more efficient than others. Dr. Campochiaro thinks that in RP and other IRDs, the energy extraction process may be dysregulated in photoreceptor cells, leading to less energy being produced, compromising cell function and survival.

Dr. Campochiaro will be testing which energy extraction methods are the most effective by measuring photoreceptor cell survival in an animal model of RP. He will then use different nutrition and pharmacological strategies to encourage cells to use more efficient energy extraction methods and see if this improves photoreceptor cell survival. Dr. Campochiaro hopes that this work will identify new ways to reduce cell death and vision loss in RP.

This study is funded by Andrew and Yvette Marriott.

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