Skip To Content
Dec 4, 2014

Saving Photoreceptors

Cell Apoptosis

Photoreceptor cells in the eye capture light, making vision possible. In retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and dry age-related macular degeneration, photoreceptors die, causing vision loss. Why do photoreceptors die? This question motivates many FBC-funded scientists, who are looking for ways to protect these cells and prevent them from dying.

FBC-funded scientist Dr. Phillipe Monnier is especially interested in cells that are dying through a process called apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death. Apoptosis occurs when photoreceptors are “programmed” to die from signals that are being sent from other cells. What if there was a way to block or modify these signals? Dr. Monnier’s research is focused on developing strategies to block death signals from reaching photoreceptor cells, thereby preventing their degeneration.

His strategies are centered on a particular receptor, Neogenin, which is located on the outer membrane of photoreceptor cells. Dr. Monnier’s latest breakthrough, which appears in the prestigious journal Cell Reports, shows that blocking Neogenin significantly enhances cell survival. This is fantastic news for those suffering from retinal degeneration because there is growing evidence that Neogenin is a key player in multiple cellular events occurring in eye diseases. Dr. Monnier has been involved in research in this area from the earliest basic science discoveries, and with regard to a range of conditions (glaucoma, spinal injury, stroke). We are proud to be funding his efforts to apply these findings towards therapies for retinal degenerative disease.

The eye is both an extension of and window into the brain, which makes it an ideal experimental environment for evaluating neuroprotective therapies. Indeed, these latest results suggest that focusing on Neogenin has the potential to generate a unified strategy to promote brain cell survival.

About the Study:

The paper appeared online August 21, 2014 in Cell Reports with the title: “Modifying Lipid Rafts Promotes Regeneration and Functional Recovery.” The authors include Nardos Tassew, Andrea Mothe, Alireza Shabanzadeh, Paromita Banerjee, Paulo Koeberle, Rod Bremner, Charles Tator, and Philippe Monnier. Both Dr.’s Monnier and Bremner are funded by Fighting Blindness Canada and are affiliated with the Toronto Western Research Institute and the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Toronto.

Latest FBC News View All

Collage of photos
Apr 25, 2019

A Message from the President and CEO For 45 years, the Foundation Fighting Blindness has raised and directed critical funding into sight-saving research for blinding eye diseases. From our earliest days as…

Read More
Sep 9, 2019

This year, participants in Cycle for Sight events across the country set off on exciting routes through farmland, fields, and country lanes. As with any adventure, our cyclists occasionally came across the…

Read More
Sep 5, 2019

Alongside our partners at the Canadian Retina Society, the Canadian Council of the Blind, and Novartis, we’re raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of age-related macular degeneration. Check out our PSA,…

Read More
Laboratory Researchers
Sep 5, 2019

This month, the Inherited Retinal Dystrophies Consortium Operating for the Under-Represented for Novel Therapies and Services (IRD COUNTS) released a landmark study highlighting the personal costs of living with an inherited retinal…

Read More

Join the Fight!

Learn how your support is helping to bring a future without blindness into focus! Be the first to learn about the latest breakthroughs in vision research and events in your community by subscribing to our eNews.

I have read and accepted the privacy policy