Scleral Micro-RNAs as Potential Therapeutic Targets For Myopia

Summer 2016

Ashley Tang : Nutritional Sciences

Mentor: Ravikanth Metlapally

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition in which the eye is unable to focus distant objects correctly due to a mismatch between the power of the eye and the length of the eyeball. The outermost layer of the eye, the sclera, is responsible for maintaining eye size. Thinning of the sclera is a leading cause of ocular complications in people with myopia, and even low levels of myopia may increase the risk for other ocular pathologies. Our research focuses on the use of scleral miRNAs (small non-coding molecules within cells) as potential therapeutic targets for myopia prevention. MiRNAs bind to specific genes to regulate expression, and play numerous roles in physiological and disease processes. By understanding the interactions between miRNAs and genes in the sclera, we aim to prevent scleral thinning and the resultant elongation of the eye in myopia

I am incredibly thankful for my donors and the Rose Hills Foundation for giving me an opportunity to showcase the skills that I have learned from my classes to assist in a research proposal that I am completely passionate about. I am very grateful to assist in research to treat myopia, a condition that Iā€™ve had for the majority of my life. From my research, I have acquired new techniques that have strengthened my foundation, and improved my understanding of ocular research. I have learned and become proficient in the techniques necessary for our proposed project, such as cell culture, cell transfection, and RT- and Q-PCR. From here I will be learning more skills, such as luciferase-assays and Western Blot technique, as well as critical thinking through project planning and data analysis. I have never been more enthusiastic to use the skills that I have learned for research that I am completely passionate about. I envision that the experience I will obtain from this opportunity will be invaluable as I pursue an OD and/or PhD in vision science.