New Orleans, LA - Haydee Bazan, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine, has been awarded a $710,000 grant over two years by the National Institutes of Health to advance her research on potential therapeutic approaches to heal corneal injuries. The grant was awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Dr. Bazan's research project explores the mechanisms of inflammation and repair during corneal wound healing. Sustained corneal inflammation may lead to destruction and corneal ulceration, but inflammation is a component of the corneal wound healing process. There is a critical balance between signaling mechanisms that promote either cellular damage or repair. This balance is fundamental to the maintenance of corneal integrity and function and extensive damage occurs when the equilibrium between chemical messengers (lipid mediators) that are released in response to tissue injury in the cornea is lost. Dr. Bazan's research will focus on several of these mediators - platelet-activating factor (PAF) which appears to play a key role contributing to tissue destruction, and the arachidonic acid (AA)- mediators that play a key role in tissue repair. AA-mediators, lipoxin A4 and the aspirin-triggered epi-LxA4, will be studied .
"If our hypothesis is correct, PAF antagonists, and the lipoxins and epi-lipoxins can become effective therapeutic tools for maintaining the transparency and integrity of the cornea," notes Dr. Bazan.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, each year, more than 2.5 million eye injuries occur and 50,000 people permanently lose part or all of their vision.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, eye injury is a leading cause of monocular blindness (blindness in one eye) in the United States. In 2004, about 37,000 eye injuries occurred in the workplace that resulted in one or more days away from work. The majority of these eye injuries occurred in workers less than 45 years of age (74%). The majority of all eye injuries occur in persons under 30 years of age (57%). Common causes of occupational eye injury include blunt trauma, chemical burns, corneal abrasions (a scratch on the cornea, the clear dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye), and biological contamination (infections).
LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates the majority of Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's academic health leader, LSUHSC comprises a School of Medicine, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, Schools of Allied Health Professions and Graduate Studies, as well as the only School of Nursing in Louisiana within an academic health center. LSUHSC faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout Louisiana. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas worldwide, LSUHSC faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, treat, or cure disease. LSUHSC outreach programs span the state.