SUPER Students Publish in Molecular Vision

SUPER Students Publish in Molecular Vision
CBR member Ken Mitton, of the Eye Research Institute, and a team of outstanding OU undergraduates have published a paper about the Different Effects of Valproic Acid on Photoreceptor Loss in Rd1 and Rd10 Retinal Degeneration Mice in the journal Molecular Vision (Volume 20, Pages 1527-1544). To learn about the significance of this research, see the summary on Mitton’s website, which begins
“Using retinal degeneration mouse strains, this paper’s data demonstrate that the underlying etiology of the photoreceptor degeneration is important to determining the effects of Valproic Acid (VPA) on the rate of photoreceptor loss. Our results are very important, because off-label VPA clinical trials with Human RP patients are underway in the USA and South Korea. Thus, VPA might help some families, but not others, depending on the exact genetic mutation, and thus disease etiology, involved in their RP. Our study with mice would indicate that any clinical trials should make comparisons of VPA to placebo within RP patients who have the same disease etiology (same genetic mutation). Patients should also be monitored very closely to evaluate changes in the rate of visual field loss and visual acuity loss while taking VPA in such trials.”
The list of coauthors demonstrates how undergraduates can contribute to biomedical research. Most of the students participated in the Eye Research Institute’s Summer Undergraduate Program in Eye Research (SUPER), including

• Brandon Metcalf (summer 2014), a health sciences major and a member of the Honors College.

• Kirsten Laux (summer 2014), a biology major.

• Paul Zlojutro (summer 2013), a biology major.

• Camryn DeLooff (summer 2013), a biomedical sciences major and member of the Honors College.

• Trung Tran (summer 2012), a biology major and member of the Honors College who graduated in 2013.

• David Byrd (summer 2011), a biology major who graduated in 2013.

• Adrianne Wallace (summer 2011), a biology major and member of the Honors College who graduate in 2013.

• Jason Sotzen (summer 2008), a biochemistry major who graduated in 2011.

The coauthors also include Ed Guzman (a research technician), Kristina Mkoyan (a psychology major), and Mrinalini Deshpande (a visiting science educator).

Students interested in participating in the 2015 SUPER program can learn more at the SUPER website.

Mitton’s research was supported in part by the Vision Research ROPARD Foundation and the National Eye Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health (grant R01EY014626.