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The American Glaucoma Foundation grants award to the University of the Basque Country

The prestigious American Glaucoma Foundation has recently awarded the research team of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of the Basque Country (EHU), led by cell biologist, Elena Vecino. This is the first time that the North American foundation has awarded a European research work.

The project awarded by the American Glaucoma Foundation is entitled, "Study of neuroprotection of retinal ganglion cells in an experimental pig glaucoma model"; amongst the aims being to develop animal glaucoma models where the cellular and molecular mechanisms that cause the illness might be studied, to establish methodologies which enable prevention or at least early diagnosis, and to develop therapies that enable detaining the progress of the blindness caused by the pathology. The award is the financial subsidy of the research project which will be provided over two years and comes to 120,000 dollars. Glaucoma is one of the illnesses of the eye with the highest rate of incidence throughout the world, with more than two million new cases diagnosed annually. Family history, age and race are some of the "determining factors" in this ocular illness developing characterised, in a large percentage, by a sharp increase in intraocular pressure which, with time, causes the death of retinal cells to the point of irreversible blindness. The most serious problems confronted by the specialists in this field are that chronic glaucoma patients do not show clear symptoms until the illness is at an advanced stage and the fact that, at this point in time, it is not known what the factor are that trigger this cell death. Elena Vecina, the leader of an eight-strong research team in this project, has also recently been awarded first prize at the ONCE III International Awards Call in Biomedicine R+D and New Technologies for the Blind.