Saving Sight

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Art, In Spite of AMD

Jefferey Lange is fascinated by the beauty and arrangement of colors and textures. As an artist diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Lange is acutely aware of being able to see colors and textures.

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Please consider giving a gift to continue our strong research initiatives, critical clinical trials and many more sight saving efforts for our local, regional, national and global communities. The Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences’ culture of innovation is supported by generous donations from our esteemed alumni, grateful patients, friends and families like yours affected by blinding diseases.

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With 50 years of eye imaging leadership, UW is now pioneering gene therapies for blinding diseases.

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Improving Glaucoma Treatment // Experimental Gene Transfer Techniques

In an interview with WYPL-FM’s (Memphis, TN) radio show Eye on Vision, Curtis Brandt, PhD, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, discussed the research of experimental gene transfer techniques to improve glaucoma treatment that he and Paul Kaufman, MD, perform here at the University of Wisconsin.

Glaucoma is an ocular disease that can lead to blindness and involves various parts of the eye. Dr. Brandt said there is significant evidence that glaucoma is a multifactorial disease, thus it is likely the result of a combination of different genes people can inherit.

“THAT MAKES IT EVEN HARDER TO PICK SOME SORT OF DISEASE FOR GENE DELIVERY STRATEGY WHEN YOU CAN HAVE A LITTLE TINY CONTRIBUTION FROM TEN DIFFERENT GENES THAT EVENTUALLY COMBINE AND LEAD TO THE DISEASE,” DR. BRANDT SAID.

Rather than identifying and using a better copy of a particular gene, Dr. Brandt and Dr. Kaufman’s strategy is to go after the physiology of the system. “In other words, we can find or identify genes that would act on those cells to increase the fluid flow without necessarily actually replacing a gene that happens to have a problem with it or a defect,” Dr. Brandt said.

Dr. Brandt and Dr. Kaufman have collaborated for many years to develop gene delivery methods. Their goal is to deliver a gene into the tissues and get a therapeutic effect that will last for a long time. This way, patients will not have to constantly use eye drops every day, or even multiple times a day.

“WE’RE HOPING WE CAN GET AWAY FROM THIS, WHERE THE PATIENT HAS TO KEEP DOSING THEMSELVES,” BRANDT SAID.

Dr. Brandt and Dr. Kaufman have made great progress on this research, and it could eventually move into the pre-drug phase and become part of a clinical trial. This research is funded by the Bright Focus Foundation, the National Eye Institute and others.

Our researchers, clinicians, educators and learners are at the forefront of saving sight locally and beyond. The many facets of our department are all focused on stopping the progression of blinding diseases – from glasses to glaucoma and everything in between – learn even more about our impact.

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