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Saving sight. Changing lives.

Mitochondria and neurodegeneration

Affiliated with the University of MelbourneUniversity of Melbourne Logo

Lead Researcher: Associate Professor Ian Trounce

Current Research:

We are conducting basic research in partnership with CERA’s Glaucoma Research to discover why ageing predisposes nerve cells to degeneration in diseases such as glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Our research suggests that the mitochondria – the batteries that supply the cells with energy – play a critical role in these neurodegenerative diseases. We are trying to find out if optimal mitochondrial function is a common benefit of both restrained diet and increased activity, and whether this can bolster the resistance of older optic nerves to stress.

We are also looking at how the mitochondrial function plays a role in diseases such as Autosomal Dominant Optic Atrophy (ADOA) and Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON). Mitochondria in these patients work less efficiently and these differences may be related to the severity of vision loss. We hope to better understand how the mitochrondria overcome the genetic impairments in some patients so that we can develop novel therapeutics to prevent vision loss in at-risk patients. Our team encompasses expertise in cell biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, genetics and animal models.