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Fundamental Cause of Glaucoma Identified
[ Issue 157 Page 5 ] Thursday, October 19, 2017, 12:51:45 Kum Seok Nam Staff Reporter snam2015@kaist.ac.kr

Professor Gou Young Koh of the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering has identified the fundamental mechanisms of glaucoma and has suggested new treatment procedures. PhD candidate Jaeryung Kim led this research project as the first author of the research paper, which was published on the online version of The Journal of Clinical Investigation on September 19 and was the cover story of the October issue of the journal.

Glaucoma is a serious eye condition which affects 3.5% of the world’s population over 40 years of age and is the second most common cause of irreversible blindness. It is caused by an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP), which causes the deterioration of the optic nerve. Accounting for over 75% of glaucoma cases, open-angle glaucoma occurs from a wide angle between the iris and cornea. However, it is very difficult to identify the direct causes of open-angle glaucoma, and major symptoms do not occur until the disease is well underway.

This research has unveiled new understandings on the causes of open- angle glaucoma, allowing for new treatment measures. IOP is caused by an increase in the resistance of aqueous humor outflow (AHO), which is the flow of fluid in the eyes. This fluid flows through a channel around the eye called the Schlemm’s canal (SC). This research established that the interaction between angiopoietin (Angpt) and the Angpt receptor Tie2 was vital in maintaining the functionality of the SC. Deprivation of Angpt or Tie2 in adult mice resulted in the failure of the SC, which led to an increase in IOP and damage to retinal neurons. Furthermore, the research team was able to demonstrate that Angpt-Tie2 signaling, AHO, and prospero homeobox protein 1 activity controlled SC functionality, allowing for a method to control the resistance of AHO. Through the insertion of the Tie2 agonistic antibody, which causes the Tie2 system to revive, mice with previously low functioning SCs were able to recover, allowing for optimism in the applications for this research.

Professor Koh remarked, “There are over 20 image sets attached to this research paper, which is two times the normal amount. This serves to illustrate the vast amount of research done on the SC’s signaling mechanism.” This research has made a significant contribution to developing a treatment for glaucoma.

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