Glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness in the US. In a recent research work, researchers have examined the gene expression patterns in the retina and optic nerve of mice that leads to glaucoma. By clustering these genes researchers were able to identify signature patterns of early events of glaucoma progression. This identification would pave way toward glaucoma protection.
Activation of part of the innate immune system called the complement cascade, and upregulation of endothelin 2- a protein that can increase blood pressure- were among these early changes. Notably, the researchers found that genetically and pharmacologically interfering with these changes protected mice from developing glaucoma.
The researchers The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, Simon John and colleagues believe that they have identified pathways that might be targeted in the development of new glaucoma therapeutics, and hope that their method of clustered gene expression analysis will be useful in uncovering the early molecular events that underlie other diseases.