COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The application of electrical fields to direct growth of retinal ganglion cell axons is an avenue of research being explored as treatment for patients with advanced, blinding optic neuropathies.
“In order to restore vision in these patients, we need to regenerate the optic nerve,” Kimberly Gokoffski, MD, PhD, said at the Women in Ophthalmology Summer Symposium. “Currently, cell transplantation techniques show immense promise.”
The ultimate goal of Gokoffski’s research at the USC Roski Eye Institute is to develop a technology to facilitate transplanted retinal ganglion cells to extend an axon out of the eye into the optic nerve all the way to the lateral geniculate nucleus, she said.
“The approach that my lab is taking to do this is to use electrical fields. Electrical fields occur naturally in our body and they’ve been known to direct tissue patterning during development,” she said.
In work to be published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Gokoffski and colleagues have shown that axons of retinal ganglion cells grow directionally in an electrical field in vitro, she said.
The work has led to the hypothesis that if one electrode is placed behind the eye and another one near the lateral geniculate nucleus, then an electrical field can be generated that could be used to guide transplanted ganglion cell axon growth, she said. – by Patricia Nale, ELS
Reference: Gokoffski K. Neuro-ophthalmology: Don’t miss this. Presented at: Women in Ophthalmology Summer Symposium; Aug. 22-25, 2019; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Disclosure: Gokoffski reports no relevant financial disclosures.