Clinical Glaucoma Research and Ophthalmic Research Laboratory
The Clinical Glaucoma Research and Ophthalmic Research Laboratory undertakes groundbreaking research on retinal cell biology and glaucoma, with translation into clinical trials.
Our research uses both in vitro and in vivo systems, as well as state-of-the-art molecular biology, to better understand:
- the pathogenesis of glaucoma
- developing a new neuroprotective agent to treat glaucoma
- retinal/photoreceptor metabolism
- alternative laser treatment for retinal diseases.
Our highly innovative research covers a number of areas. Our research in blinding eye disease and retinal energy metabolism, for example, has laid the foundation for further clinical trials. This trial stemmed from our bioenergetics research and in it, we delivered ‘proof-of-principle’ clinical translation in a first-to-man, double blind randomised trial. In this trial, we demonstrated that ocular glucose delivery temporarily recovered contrast sensitivity and visual acuity in patients with severe primary open-angle glaucoma.
Since then, we have established rapid clinical translation of our bioenergetic research using clinical methodology that measures neurorecovery. This is useful for retinal and optic nerve diseases where energy failure is part of the problem.
In other significant studies, we have looked at axonal transport and early molecular pathology in glaucoma. We hypothesised that axonal transport from the eye to the brain is disrupted in glaucoma, resulting in death of specific retinal axons and loss of vision—and we have been able to show that certain marker molecules accumulate at the optic nerve head in experimental glaucoma. We have also shown that early phosphorylation of tau (an abundant protein found in neurons) also occurs in ocular tissue in our experimental model of glaucoma.
With collaborators in Sydney, we have recently shown that a novel low energy laser can reduce swelling at the macular in diabetic eye disease. Our own group has further shown that this laser can protect light sensitive cells in the retina, called cone photoreceptors, that are responsible for our daylight, high acuity vision. We demonstrated remarkable protection of cones in an animal model of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and recently completed a Phase I trial in individuals with RP, showing temporary recovery of visual acuity.
We are developing gene therapy to augment the oxygen supply to the retinal nerve cells in glaucoma and have developed new software to count cells in the retina.
Professor Robert Casson
Professor Robert Casson is Head of the Discipline of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Adelaide. He is an internationally recognised ophthalmic clinician and scientist, with special interests in glaucoma, retinal cell biology, neuroprotection, ophthalmic epidemiology and translational ophthalmic research.
Partner Institution/Organisation Dr Dan Peet University of Adelaide Professor Jonathan Crowston Centre for Eye Research Australia Kim Hemsley South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) Professor Mark Gillies University of Sydney Ewa Goldys University of New South Wales Nova Eye Medical Nacuity Calpain Therapeutics
Related areas of research
We offer exciting opportunities for researchers at the honours, masters and PhD levels. Our research degrees are open to students from a broad range of backgrounds, and range from basic sciences to clinical research. If you are interested in human health, consider furthering your research career with us.