Dr. Michael Steketee's current research focuses on regeneration of the central nervous system using specific retinal ganglion cells and mitochondria signaling dynamics with nanotechnology platforms to help repair damaged axons. In other words, his first priority is to research ways to preserve vision after trauma, and to prevent degeneration of retinal ganglion cells, which help interpret light in the back of the eye before sending signals to the brain. By inserting nanoparticles into the eye more directly, Dr. Steketee hopes to more effectively bring therapeutic treatments to the damaged areas, utilizing regenerative techniques to restore vision.

As part of the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration, Dr. Steketee has also begun collaborations with Dr. Steven Badylak at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, to create medical transports for therapeutic treatments by utilizing different particles to deliver the necessary molecules needed to promote regeneration in damaged areas. This has breakthrough potential to effectively and accurately deliver medicine to damaged parts of the body and central nervous system. Dr. Steketee believes this technique could be used on the eye, in the retina and optic nerve, helping to restore vision more effectively than by invasive surgery or other traditional treatments.

Much of Dr. Steketee’s current work is focused on restoring retinal ganglion cell (RGC) functionality. RGCs are integral to almost aspects of proper eye function, especially in its interactions with the brain. Dr. Steketee is working specifically on creating targeting particles for RGCs and other injured axons, thereby allowing for much more accurate medicine delivery, and efficient care for specialized treatments. This would allow for repaired function to damaged RGCs and optic nerve tissue, assisting novel regeneration of vision loss. Eventually, this technique could be extrapolated beyond eye care and vision restoration, towards central nervous repair and other damaged areas across the body.