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9/2012 - Kenneth P. Mitton,
associate professor of biomedical sciences in the Eye Research Institute, was one of only several foreign biomedical researchers invited by the Chinese Medical Association to present a plenary session talk at the 17th Congress of the Chinese Ophthalmological Society meeting this August in the historic ancient capital city of Nanjing, China. 

More than 5,000 delegates attended this meeting from all over the Asia Pacific region, including practicing ophthalmologists, ophthalmology residents and fellows, and medical students from all over China and Hong Kong, as well as Taiwan, Australia, Japan, South Korea and other Pacific Rim nations. 

Dr. Mitton presented a concise review of the Epigenetic aspects of gene regulation in eye development and disease in the Nanjing Jingling World Expo Centre's 1,000-seat presentation venue. Other speakers included the director of the Doheny Eye Insitute (USC) and Paul Lichter, past director of the Kellogg Eye Center. 

Dr. Mitton also provided a preliminary report on the results of testing of Valproic Acid (VPA) on two different rodent models of Retinal Pigmentosa. In the U.S. and Korea, VPA is about to be used in clinical trails for treatment of human RP patients. VPA is an FDA approved anticonvulsant (epilepsy) and antimigraine drug, which was recently found to have epigenetic effects. The results of Dr. Mitton's first rodent model VPA trials suggest that VPA can slow retina degeneration or may also slightly increase retinal degeneration depending on different underlying genetic causes for the disease in two different mouse models. 

Dr. Mitton is communicating this important information from his lab's animal studies at large international ophthalmology meetings so the medical community testing VPA in Human RP patients are aware that RP patients may or may not benefit depending on the specific gene defect responsible for their disease. Dr. Mitton's lecture was prepared and presented simultaneously with both English and Chinese powerpoint slides. A version of the presentation is also being prepared for Asia Pacific subscribers of the International Ophthalmology Times online edition (Chinese), where it will be available on demand in the e-education section. 

3/2012 - Kenneth P. Mitton,
associate professor of biomedical sciences in the Eye Research Institute, recently received the  Retinopahty of Prematurity and Related Diseases (ROPARD) Award for two years for his investigator-initiated research proposal entitled "Diabetic Live Animal Model in the PRRL for Testing Retinopathy Interventions." 

ROPARD is a Michigan based foundation that supports research into retinal diseases of children that involved retinal blood vessels. They include retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), diabetic retinopathy, and the genetic conditions Norrie's Disease and FEVR (Familial Exudative Vitreo-Retinopathy). Dr Mitton is a recognized expert in the regulation of photoreceptor gene expression, contributing to several discoveries of new genes and the mechanisms that turn genes on in new photoreceptor cells. These light-detecting cells perish quickly when the microvascular network of the retina fails. 

The ROPARD award will provide OU with its first diabetic research model, which will also be useful for OU faculty interested in other organs impacted by juvenile diabetes.

The new ROPARD award will allow Dr Mitton to merge his expertise in diabetes and gene expression to delve into the earliest molecular changes driving inflammation. Treatments for diabetic retinopathy only begin when the disease is visible. Dr Mitton and his clinical collaborators, Mike Trese, M.D., and Kimberly Drenser M.D. and Ph.D., believe that a vicious cycle of inflammation and oxidation damage is already driving the damage by that point in time, which makes the condition difficult to halt. Finding the earliest, invisible, molecular changes is necessary to guide the development of earlier treatments before the condition is self-perpetuating. 

11/2008 - Kenneth P. Mitton, an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the Eye Research Institute, is heading a team of researchers whose work is revealing clues to how gene or stem cell therapy might one day be used to treat inherited diseases of the eye. The team’s recent findings, published in BMC Molecular Biology, include ground breaking insights into the functioning of complex control networks that regulate proteins in the retina. Mutations of these proteins are known to cause the retinal diseases in question, and a thorough understanding of how the control networks function is essential to development of safe therapies. The team’s published findings are available at

12/2006 - Kenneth Mitton, assistant professor of biomedical science and researcher in the Eye Research Institute, along with members of his lab, presented new findings at the Jackson Laboratory Meeting: Experimental Tools in Model Systems of Translational Vision Research held in September. They presented "FIZ1, an NRL binding protein, functions as a transcriptional activator at rod specific promoters in vitro." New findings were presented that implicate the protein FIZ1 in the control of gene promoters that drive the expression genes required for normal development of a healthy (light-detecting) retina. This includes the fundamental gene for Rhodopsin protein, the light detector in cells of the retina that provide for our B/W vision (night vision). FIZ1 was originally discovered by Mitton as a protein that interacts with other gene-switching proteins, which are mutated in human genetic diseases. Inherited forms of Retinitis Pigmentosa, Lebers Congenital Amaurosis, and other degenerative diseases are some examples. The research team included Raghuveer Mali, an ERI Vision Research postdoctoral training program under the mentorship of Mitton. Contributions from Technologist Xiao Zhang and OU undergraduate student Rick Schlaf were included. Mali was selected for a travel scholarship, and the Mitton lab's submission was among several chosen for talk presentation at the meeting. During the same scientific meeting, Mitton and Mali attended advanced training workshops for gene delivery systems into the mouse eye, which are being established in the ERI to elucidate the role of FIZ1 in retinal gene expression and development. Computational resources and training from the Jackson laboratory and NIH have been implemented in the ERI and to allow OU investigators and students to search the entire mouse genome for genes that may interact and function with any gene or protein of interest. These new resources also allow mouse phenotypes and even behaviors to be correlated with gene expression patterns.

3/2003 - Kenneth P. Mitton, assistant professor of biomedical sciences in the Eye Research Institute, recently published a paper entitled "Interaction of retinal bZIP transcription factor NRL with Flt3-interacting zinc-finger protein Fiz1: possible role of Fiz1 as a transcriptional repressor." The paper was highlighted as the cover article in the journal "Human Molecular Genetics," Vol. 112, 2003.

The paper describes the first evidence of a gene regulatory function for a novel protein "Fiz1." The image on the Feb. 15 issue of the journal also shows a fluorescent microscope section that was obtained in the ERI digital microscopy unit, showing the presence of a developmental receptor that was thought to be present only in white blood cells, and brain.