Groundbreaking vision research discoveries in the laboratory are essential to advancing therapies for blindness. Dr. Pattnaik is committed to making key discoveries in pediatric blindness conditions that will pave the ground for future therapeutics. Over the years we have made significant progress in our understanding of molecular mechanisms of blindness in children due to either developmental or inherited condition. Our research focus is on cellular communications that are key to life and disease. We discovered a novel cellular signaling pathway between cone photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) that utilizes oxytocin in the PR and oxytocin receptors in the RPE cells. This established a role for naturally occurring oxytocin signaling in the eye beyond its involvement in labor and sociability.
Another key focus of our laboratory research is channelopathy, defects in ion-channel proteins, leading to inherited and acquired blindness. Ion channels are integrated in the cell membrane and control the passage of specific ions into or out of cells life-long. RPE cells are present in the back of the eye that nourishes neural retina to maintain its health resulting in our ability to see. We have shown that mutations in RPE inwardly rectifying potassium and chloride channels cause blindness such as Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) and Best’s disease. We are currently employing several in-vitro (patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells iPSC-RPE) and in-vivo (genetically engineered mouse) models to study cell, tissue, organ, and animal physiology. We use various state of the art techniques like electroretinogram, patch-clamp, biological imaging, molecular and biochemical techniques to repair ion channel defects in the hope to treat blindness.
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