How Does Our Research Help Patients?

The Hartnett laboratory targets questions in order to reduce blindness and improve or preserve vision in patients with eye diseases.

The Hartnett laboratory uses a systematic approach to understand physiologic (normal) and pathologic (abnormal) processes with the goal of seeking homeostasis (balance) and restoring physiology, or normalcy. Our focus has been on angiogenesis, or how blood vessels grow.

Studying How Blood Vessels Grow

Blood vessels provide oxygen and nutrition to the retina and eye. These are critical for normal eye function and vision. However, many blinding eye diseases are associated with abnormal blood vessel growth. The stimulus for this abnormal growth is many times first a loss of the normal blood vessels, followed by abnormal blood vessel growth.

Current treatment focuses on anti-angiogenic strategies. If blood vessel growth is inhibited through anti-angiogenic treatments, then the stimulus is not removed and abnormal blood vessels may grow again. In addition, some of the substances implicated in abnormal blood vessel growth also have beneficial effects on the eye.

The Hartnett laboratory seeks to understand the mechanisms to inhibit pathologic aspects of these substances, and by so doing redirect blood vessel growth into normal compartments and/or prevent invasion of blood vessel growth into unwanted areas of the eye, rather than broadly inhibit blood vessel growth.