Student opportunities

IPTNTs, a new therapeutic target for glaucoma

This research position is open to expressions of interest from PhD students.

Supervisor: Dr Luis Alarcon-Martinez

Email: luis.alarconmartinez@unimelb.edu.au

Suitable for: Ph.D. Candidate


Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. It is characterized by the death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and their axons, which form the optic nerve.

The most common feature of the disease is increased intraocular pressure (IOP), also called ocular hypertension (OHT). However, RGC death and vision loss can occur even with adequate control of IOP, which underscores the knowledge gaps in our understanding of vascular deficits that accompany glaucoma.

Recently, we have described, for the first time, a novel anatomic microstructure in the retina that we have termed interpericyte tunneling nanotube (IPTNTs).

IPTNTs are thin tubes connecting pericytes, which are cells that line capillaries and regulate their diameter through contraction and expansion. After light stimulation, some capillaries with pericytes connected by IPTNTs dilate, and other ones constrict. We have recently demonstrated that OHT induces IPTNT dysfunction/rupture and neurovascular impairment.

Strategies to restore normal IPTNT function reveal new knowledge on preventing RGC loss and vision impairment in glaucoma. Here, we will study IPTNT function and how to preserve IPTNT health in glaucoma.

To learn more or apply for this research opportunity, please email Dr Luis Alarcon-Martinez at luis.alarconmartinez@unimelb.edu.au

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