Insight News article – April 15, 2024

Associate Professor Zhichao Wu’s glaucoma research has been recognised by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) as one of the best research projects this year.

Featured in NHMRC’s annual publication, ‘10 of the Best’, Dr Wu from the Centre of Eye Research Australia (CERA) aims to identify glaucoma before serious vision loss occurred in his project titled: ‘Novel Clinical Biomarkers of Glaucoma Management’.

The publication showcases the NHMRC funded projects that demonstrate the “calibre of our nation’s health and medical researchers working to prevent disease, improve detection and treatment methods, increase our understanding of common health conditions and deliver extraordinary outcomes”.

At CERA, Dr Wu’s research focuses on establishing new biomarkers from common eye conditions using state-of-the-art imaging and functional assessment of the eye, which are used in clinical trials to expedite the discovery of new treatments.

These biomarkers are also developed to enable the earlier detection of these conditions and their progression, prediction of vision loss, and the uncovering new insights about what causes these conditions.

NHMRC CEO Professor Steve Wesselingh said: “Investment in research discoveries and the translation of knowledge into practice, as well as a workforce that fosters collaborations, ensures we are advancing health and medical knowledge and outcomes for all Australians.”

He added that NHMRC’s reputation as the driver of health and medical research spreads beyond national borders and positions Australia as a leader in helping the next generations to live longer and healthier lives through the research it funds.

“Congratulations to the researchers and their teams highlighted in this 15th edition of 10 of the Best, and behalf of all Australians, I thank you for delivering such extraordinary health and medical outcomes now and for future generations,” Dr Wesselingh said.

Paving the way at CERA

Meanwhile Dr Anna Wang, an emerging researcher at CERA and the institution’s first Equity Fellow for Excellence in Vision Research, has discovered a new class of cell in the eye that could pave the way for novel glaucoma treatments.

The cells, called ON-type direction-selective ganglion cells, play a key role in helping sight stay clear and stable when eyes move to follow movement such as looking out of the window of a moving train.

“We’re able to see how living cells respond to changes in the environment, which tells us a lot more about the cells than if they were static,” Dr Wang said.

Dr Wang’s research “brings a new dimension to CERA’s glaucoma program” and understanding how these new retinal ganglion cells work is the first step in developing potential new treatments.

This article is intended to educate Healthcare Professionals with an interest in glaucoma. Insight has been the leading industry publication in Australia for more than 40 years. This longevity is largely due to its ability to consistently deliver accurate and independent news relevant to all ophthalmic professionals and their supporting industry. Click here for the full article and further reading.

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