AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Neurons Fight Back Early in Brain Disease

Therapeutic Target for Glaucoma Could Have Implications For Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s

 

A therapeutic target to preserve vision in glaucoma patients could have treatment ramifications for age-related neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

David Calkins, PhD, vice chair and director of Research at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, said it was previously believed that, as retinal activity is lost, the connection between the retina and the brain should be gone.

But the opposite is true.

“The dogma has been that, once started, neurodegenerative disease is a one-way path,” said Calkins, Denis O’Day Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and director of the Vanderbilt Vision Research Center. “What we have demonstrated is that the brain fights back. We found that individual neurons fight back to maintain signaling between brain regions, thereby slowing progression. It’s a balance between disease and adaptation.”

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