Microglia and retinal degenerations: Identifying key modulators of inflammation as therapeutic targets

In this 2018 project funded by Retina Australia, the purpose was to explore if RNA, specifically microRNA (miRNA) could be used as a therapeutic for the treatment of retinal degenerations.

The preliminary data generated as part of this work which was completed in 2018, contributed either directly to, or laid the foundation for numerous publications and future funding as listed below:

  • R. Aggio-Bruce, J.A. Chu-Tan, Y. Wooff, A.V. Cioanca, U. Schumann, R. Natoli Inhibition of microRNA-155 Protects Retinal Function Through Attenuation of Inflammation in Retinal Degeneration Molecular Neurobiology, 2021
  • N. Fernando, J.H.C. Wong, S. Das, C. Dietrich, R. Aggio-Bruce, A.V. Cioanca, Y. Wooff, J.A. Chu-Tan, U. Schumann, C. Ngo, R.W. Essex, C. Dorian, S.A. Robertson, S.M. Man, J. Provis, and R. Natoli, MicroRNA-223 Regulates Retinal Function and Inflammation in the Healthy and Degenerating Retina. Frontiers in Cell and Development Biology, 2020.  DOI: 10.3389/fcell.2020.00516.
  • J.A. Chu-Tan and R. Natoli, The potential for microRNA-based therapeutics in retinal disorders. Annals of Translational Medicine, 2020. 8.
  • J.A. Chu-Tan, N. Fernando, R. Aggio-Bruce, A.V. Cioanca, K. Valter, N. Andronikou, X.d. du Jeu, M. Rutar, J. Provis, and R. Natoli, A method for gene knockdown in the retina using a lipid-based carrier. Molecular Vision, 2020. 26, 48.
  • Chu-Tan, J.A., Rutar, M., Saxena, K., Aggio-Bruce, R., Essex, R.W., Valter, K., Jiao, H., Fernando, N., Wooff, Y., Madigan, M.C., Provis, J., Natoli, R. MicroRNA-124 dysregulation is associated with retinal inflammation and photoreceptor death in the degenerating retina. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci., 2018. 59(10) p. 4094-4105.
Further funding leverage

As a result of this project, I was successfully awarded an $780,000 grant from an Australian National University (ANU) Translational Fellowship to explore “Novel neuroinflammatory targets for the treatment of AMD”(2019-2021) and an NHMRC Ideas Grant (CIA): $1,189,692 for the project “Investigating microRNAs as key regulators in a novel communication pathway driving retinal degeneration” CIA Natoli.