Failing vision is one of the many challenges for people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). And the pathological proteins involved in the disease (amyloid beta and phosphorylated tau) accumulate in the retina of AD patients long before they experience cognitive symptoms and memory loss – the better-known hallmarks of this disease.
Christine Crish, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, specializes in studying pre-symptomatic brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, and related brain disorders. She is currently the Principal Investigator on a project to study how the eye and vision centers in the brain are affected by the pathological proteins involved in Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Crish and Co-Investigator Matthew Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, recently received a grant of $20,000 from the Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation to support their project. This NEOMED team is using a genetic Alzheimer’s mouse model to test how retinal amyloid and tau pathologies affect visual processing, and to determine whether therapeutic intervention with fingolimod — an FDA-approved neuroprotective drug used to treat multiple sclerosis – can reduce their detrimental impact on the visual system.
The long-term goal of their research, says Dr. Crish, is to identify ways to preserve vision and improve quality of life in Alzheimer’s patients – and to provide insight into new mechanistic interventions in this disease.
Dr. Crish is part of the collaborative Neurodegenerative Disease and Aging research team at NEOMED.