Ocular Biomarkers, Bioenergetics and Angiogenesis Research Group
Research in the ocular biomarkers, bioenergetics and angiogenesis research group is focussed on the interface between the eye and systemic disease. Group leader, Dr Peter van Wijngaarden, is an ophthalmologist who undertook his PhD in the field of retinal angiogenesis and his post-doctoral fellowship in regenerative biology in multiple sclerosis. The research team is comprised of dynamic young researchers with a passion for what they do.
The work centres on three main themes:
(1) ocular biomarkers: using novel imaging approaches, including hyperspectral imaging and optical coherence tomography, to identify retinal biomarkers of central nervous system diseases including Alzheimer's disease. The work brings together applied optics, mathematics and neuroscience with the goal of assisting in the early diagnosis and monitoring of central nervous system diseases.
(2) bioenergetics: glaucoma is a common blinding disease characterised by the progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells. We hypothesise that disruption in the supply of energy to these highly metabolically active cells contributes to their dysfunction and death in glaucoma. Our work aims to better understand the roles played by oligodendrocytes, the myelinating glial cells of the optic nerve, in providing metabolic support to retinal ganglion cell axons.
(3) angiogenesis: the proliferation of new, abnormal blood vessels within and beneath the retina is a key feature of a range of blinding eye diseases including diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. The use of inhibitors of ocular angiogenesis has transformed the treatment of these conditions, however patients need to undergo regularly repeated intraocular injections and some respond poorly. We are actively testing novel inhibitors of angiogenesis as alternative candidate treatments for these conditions. We are also testing novel delivery vehicles for existing therapeutic agents, including thermoresponsive polymers, which may substantially reduce the need for frequent intraocular injections.
Dr Elsa Chan, Post-doctoral Fellow
Mrs Sheridan Keene, Laboratory Manager & Research Assistant
Mr Sze Ng, Research Assistant
Mr Joseph Paul, Post-doctoral Fellow(thesis under examination)
Prof Jonathan Crowston, Centre for Eye Research Australia; Ophthalmology, University of Melbourne Department of Surgery
A/Prof Ian Trounce, Centre for Eye Research Australia
Prof Darren Kelly, Centre for Eye Research Australia; Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne
Prof Robin Franklin, Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge
Prof Roshan Mayadunne, Swinburne University & Centre for Eye Research Australia (honorary)
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, David. L. Epstein Award
Annemarie Mankiewicz-Zelkin Fellowship
CASS Foundation Science & Medicine Grant
Sylvia & Charles Viertal Charitable Foundation, Clinical Investigatorship
Yulgilbar Alzheimer's Research Program
van Wijngaarden, P., Coster, D.J., Brereton H.M., Gibbins, I.L., Williams, K.A. Strain-dependent differences in oxygen-induced retinopathy in the inbred rat. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science; 2005;46(4):1445-1452. This was one of the first papers to describe genetic determinants of susceptibility to disease in one of the most widely used rodent models of ocular neovascularisation. This was the catalyst for an ongoing program of research (Refs 12-15 below).
Chan, E.C., van Wijngaarden P., Chan, E., Ngo, D., Wang, J.H., Peshavariya, H.M., Dusting, G.J., Liu, G.S. NADPH oxidase 2 plays a role in experimental corneal neovascularization.,Clin Sci. 2016;130(9):683-96. This work established a role for Nox2 NADPH oxidase in inflammation-induced neovascualrisation of the cornea, identifying this as a novel therapeutic target for corneal disease. We have also identified a role for Nox2 in retinal neovascularisation (Ref 5 below).
Miron VE, Boyd A, Zhao J-W, Yuen TJ, Ruckh JM, van Wijngaarden P, Shadrach JL, Wagers AJ, Williams A, Franklin RJM, French-Constant C. M1 to M2 polarization switch in microglia/ macrophages drives oligodendrocyte differentiation during CNS remyelination. Nature Neurosci. 2013; 16:1211-8. Dr van Wijngaarden contributed to collaborative research that identified that age-related failure of endogenous regeneration of the central nervous system in multiple sclerosis is due to a failure of a polarization switching in microglia and macrophages. This built on previous work that demonstrated that the age-related decline in remyelination is reversible and is due, in part to declining monocyte/macrophage function, rather than a failure of endogenous stem cell function (Ruckh et al., Ref 8 below).
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