New study investigates genetic links in glaucoma

You may have your mum's blue eyes, or your grandma's nose, but new research from CERA's Neurodegeneration​​ and Mitochondria team is looking at the link between changes in the mitochondrial DNA – inherited from your maternal line – and optic nerve diseases such as glaucoma.

Mitochondria have a small but vital set of genes which are inherited from our mothers, separate to the nuclear genes that come from both mother and father.

Associate Professor Ian Trounce was recently awarded a Project Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to fund this research.

Ian Trounce
Ian Trounce PhD, Associate Professor and Principal Investigator

The funding will allow Associate Professor Trounce to conduct a four-year study to determine if mitochondrial gene changes contribute to impaired mitochondrial function in 1000 Australian patients with glaucoma.

"If true, we may define a sub-group of glaucoma subjects with mitochondrial DNA markers where entirely new approaches to slowing vision loss can be developed," Associate Professor Trounce said.

"Existing treatments for glaucoma aim to lower eye pressure but in many patients this approach does not slow vision loss," he said.

"We have new evidence that the energy generating cellular power-packs, the mitochondria, are defective in glaucoma."