UCSB scientists will be studying a certain retinal disease for the next three years with the help of a $240,000 grant from the Pennsylvania-based Macula Vision Research Foundation, which has never previously given money to the school. The difference: a mouse – specifically one whose own retinal ailment mirrors a specific human one in a way that may help scientists to treat a disease they otherwise know little about.
The eye disease in question is central serous chorioretinopathy (CSR), which causes the retinas to detach and results in impaired eyesight. Steven Fisher – the lead scientists in the study and a professor at UCSB’s Neuroscience Research Center as well as the school’s department of cellular, molecular and developmental biology – explained that CSR exists in various forms, some benign and some chronic.
Although first documented 140 years ago, Fisher noted in a UCSB press release, the disease remains little-understood and often hard to treat, with only a small percentage of those who suffer from it being candidates for laser therapy.
The mouse, however, gives hope to Fisher and the scientists he’ll be working with. Its retina detached as the result of a spontaneous mutation that resembles CSR’s effects and, consequently, it has become the first-ever animal model from which scientist may be able to get basic information about this specific kind of retinal detachment and possibly even treat the disease.