Neuroscience affiliated faculty Konark Mukherjee from VTCRI, led a reserach team that has unveiled the pathology underlying optic nerve hypoplasia, a leading cause of childhood blindness.
The discovery in a rodent model may provide insight into what happens in the visual systems of children born with a condition that prevents the optic nerve from fully developing. The condition is also associated with autism spectrum disorder.
“Although clinicians have known about optic nerve hypoplasia for some time, the nature of the pathology was not clearly understood,” said Konark Mukherjee, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. “In people, the disorder is diagnosed using visualization of the retina within the patient’s eye with ophthalmoscopy or imaging with a MRI scan. Those tests don’t give us the details we need to understand the nature of the pathology at the cellular level, so we modeled the disease to perform a systematic analysis of the optic nerve, from its origin in the eyes to termination in the brain.”