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Denver/July 18, 2023 – Morris Animal Foundation recently announced it is funding a new canine health study looking at links between mitochondria, a cell's "powerhouse," and glaucoma in dogs. The research team hopes their results will lead to new diagnostic tests, novel treatments and possibly prevention of glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the species.

"Investigating the role of mitochondria in the development of canine eye disease is new and innovative," said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Chief Program Officer at Morris Animal Foundation. "The research team is trying to open up new avenues to understand and treat this important cause of blindness in dogs."

The study, led by Dr. Christophe Marycz at the International Institute of Translational Medicine in Poland, will investigate links between loss of normal mitochondrial function and death of retinal ganglion cells.

Blindness in dogs with glaucoma is the result of destructive processes linked to a gradual loss of mitochondrial functions within RGCs. Mitochondrial loss not only leads to a decrease in the RGCs’ energy supply, but also increases the production of damaging and harmful substances that provoke cell death, ultimately leading to blindness.

To help solve this issue, researchers will study novel molecules associated with mitochondrial stress in the canine patients’ eyes to learn more about mitochondrial-associated RGC death. These biomarkers could be used for early diagnosis and therapy. The team also will evaluate the possibility of replacing defective mitochondria with their healthy counterparts to improve retinal function in affected dogs.

About Morris Animal Foundation
Morris Animal Foundation's mission is to bridge science and resources to advance the health of animals. Founded in 1948 and headquartered in Denver, it is one of the largest nonprofit animal health research organizations in the world, funding more than $149 million in nearly 3,000 critical studies across a broad range of species. Learn more

Media Contact: Annie Mehl