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Vision is the greatest gift: CERA launches 2017 Christmas appeal

Dr Isabel Lopez Sanchez is a CERA researcher working to find a way to protect nerve cells in the eye from dying. “I want to give the gift of sight to hundreds of thousands of Australians affected by neurodegenerative eye disease – but I can’t do it without your help,” she says in the appeal.

Dr Isabel Lopez Sanchez

Dr Isabel Lopez Sanchez

CERA’s 2017 Christmas appeal has been launched this week and the appeal features the work Dr Lopez Sanchez is doing to address a fundamental question in the research of ageing eye diseases: Does a glitch in our mitochondrial DNA (the batteries of the cell) play a role in the onset of primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) and other debilitating eye diseases? The mounting evidence shows that it does.

“Our research so far has uncovered many similarities between rare optic nerve diseases such as Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) and glaucoma,” Dr Lopez Sanchez says.

“By studying a well-understood rare disease like LHON, we can better understand a common but more complex disease such as glaucoma. Using this knowledge, we can find ways to protect the nerve cells in the eye from dying, potentially saving the sight of hundreds of thousands of Australians,” she says.

“At CERA, I work with Associate Professor Ian Trounce and we need your help to discover the missing link between broken cell batteries and these devastating eye diseases.”

Dr Lopez Sanchez also reveals a personal reason for her work, “…studying rare diseases is especially close to my heart since someone in my own family was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease many years ago. I realised then that medical research gives us the most precious gift of all… hope,” she says.

Listen to a podcast of Dr Lopez Sanchez explaining why finding a cure for rare eye diseases is such an important life task for her.

Donate now to the appeal.