Scientific Research and Projects
Our Foundation’s work in the past has reduced blindness in premature infants substantially. There is much work ahead to further our translational research and discover treatments or cures for the other retinal diseases which affect infants and children each day. We perform our basic and translational research at the Pediatric Retinal Research Lab at Oakland University which our Foundation funded. This lab is the first of its kind - a state of the art facility with outstanding researchers solely dedicated to pediatric retinal diseases from bench-top to bedside. Recent changes in drug development pathways through the FDA have increased the probability that we will develop a therapeutic drug, Micronorrin, for treatment of FEVR and similar pediatric retinal diseases. The PRRF also supports a mentoring program for outstanding students and fellows who participate in this important research.
We are excited to introduce the Ophthalmic Biobank, the first database to specifically bank tissue from patients with a wide variety of vision disorders. A biobank allows for the collection of large numbers of samples of rare diseases. From these tissues, subsequent targeted research can be directed as new technology becomes available. The samples have no patient identifying demographics making a safe repository of valuable data that opens the door for researchers with specific interests and skill to study these diseases. An example of how a large biobank database helps improve research was our discovery that a specific gene expression pathway, seen in the inherited eye disease Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy, is also involved with premature birth. Newer technologies allow for even more associations between vision threatening diseases and genetic pathways using Next Gen Sequencing, done at the Pediatric Retina Research Laboratory at Oakland University. Whole genome sequencing will lead to uncovering clues in the DNA/genes of children and adults impacted by hereditary retinal conditions.