Journal article

Advances in understanding the mechanisms of retinal degenerations

Erica L Fletcher

Clinical and Experimental Optometry | WILEY | Published : 2020


Photoreceptor death is an important contributor to irreversible vision loss worldwide. In this review, I outline our work examining the role that purines, such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), have in normal retinal function and in retinal disease. Our work shows that the actions of ATP, mediated by P2X receptors, are expressed in various retinal layers including photoreceptor terminals, and when stimulated by excessive levels of ATP is associated with rapid death of neurons. Treatment with a compound that blocks the action of P2X and some P2Y receptors reduces photoreceptor death in a mouse model of retinal degeneration. Our observations not only provide a means for developing a potential t..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Funding Acknowledgements

I am deeply humbled and grateful to have received the H Barry Collin Medal and would like to thank Optometry Australia for this honour. I am also very grateful to the many students and staff I have had the privilege to work with over the years. Although I cannot name all the students and postdoctoral scientists I have had the privilege to work with, Dr Theresa Puthussery, Dr Joanna Phipps, Dr Laura Downie, Dr Kirstan Vessey, Dr Andrew Jobling and Dr Una Greferath deserve special mention. They have undertaken many tireless hours in the laboratory and made my research endeavours particularly rewarding over many years. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart. I would also like to pay tribute to my collaborators and mentors Prof Robyn Guymer, Prof Heinz Wassle, Prof Michael Kalloniatis and Prof Suzi Fleiszig who taught me the art of being a research scientist -they showed that research can be fun, that one needs to focus on the important questions, and then communicate it in a way that could be embraced by the wider research community. I thank them for the many hours of discussion, guidance and advice over many years (and for the countless margaritas that were consumed along the way). Finally, I would like to thank my family - to my husband, Richard Lindsay and children Paul, Charlotte and Hanna - thank you sincerely for your endless support and understanding. I wish to acknowledge my funding sources - the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Research Council and the Macular Diseases Foundation of Australia - without whose funding, none of our work would be possible. I am extremely grateful for this support.