Brain-eye research boost

Award-winning postdoctoral research fellow Dr Lola Mugisho, deputy director of the Buchanan Ocular Therapeutics Unit at Auckland University, has been awarded a Neurological Foundation First Fellowship. Saying she felt honoured to have received this prestigious fellowship, Dr Mugisho said it will allow her to advance her research into the development of new and more effective drugs for age-related neurological conditions.


Dr Mugisho’s expertise includes developing in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo models to test novel therapies to aid clinical translation, turning research findings into clinical practice and meaningful health outcomes. “We are trying to determine if our experimental drug, InflammX Therapeutics’ Xiflam, can delay or treat the effects of ageing on the retina and the brain, which can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cognitive decline,” she explained.


“If the drug works, it will inhibit the inflammasome pathway, which we believe plays a role in making us more susceptible to injury and disease. We and others have seen that the function of a specific type of cell that acts as a barrier and protects the retina from metabolic waste products is impaired by ageing. In vitro studies of these experimental drugs have shown promising results in preserving and protecting the function of these cells,” said Dr Mugisho. Xiflam is currently also undergoing phase 2 clinical trials for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy.


The in vitro study of Xiflam was made possible by the 2020 Margaret L Bailey Science Award for postdoctoral research expenses, said Dr Mugisho. “Looking up to such an accomplished researcher has been very inspirational and I am honoured to have received an award in her name.”


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