Optic Nerve Regeneration

S+S, Spring 2024, p. 3

During the campaign, the Eye & Ear Foundation has invested heavily in optic nerve regeneration, thanks to many very faithful generous donors, including Louis J. Fox. The number of faculty working directly on optic nerve regeneration in the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration has grown to include Drs. Issam Al Diri, Kun-Che Chang, and Taka Kuwajima. This past summer, Dr. Larry Benowitz joined the Fox Center team to provide senior leadership to the group.

The Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration is working on several innovative techniques to regenerate the optic nerve. One example, in collaboration with Dr. Steven Badylak’s lab, is a multi-model application of MBV (a derivative of extracellular matrix). In tandem, a statin (Baycol) utilized by Dr. Kuwajima was recently tested in a large animal trial in collaboration with Wake Forest University.   

The preliminary results are very promising for this and other technologies coming out of the Fox Center. Although there are no clinical trials at this time, this group is very focused on bringing these technologies to patients.

Additionally, the Louis J. Fox Center brings together leading scientists from around the world annually for a conference on optic nerve regeneration. The most recent Fox Center conference was held in October 2023 at the new UPMC Vision Institute.

Regenerating the optic nerve is a very ambitious goal, equivalent in manpower and effort to putting a man on the moon. Pittsburgh is proud to lead the way in these efforts, and we will continue to work with institutions around the world to find solutions for patients.