Inventors: Dr Ziv Rotfogel
Ischemic insults are a broad family of diseases affecting almost every tissue in the body. Among them is the incurable blinding ischemic ocular disease – Non Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Ocular Neuropathy (NAION). Recently, a novel and promising therapeutic intervention called Mitochondrial Transplantation (MitoPlant) has been developed, whereby freshly isolated mitochondria are injected in vivo to ischemic tissue, internalized by compromised cells and protect them from death. However, the main obstacle of this technology in entering clinical practice is the complex and time-consuming isolation process of fresh mitochondria, and their short half-life. Hence, the aims of this study are to develop a protocol for the preservation of highly functional, ready-to-use mitochondria for transplantation, and to establish its beneficial effect in NAION disease. Our preliminary results show for the first time that mitochondria injected to the vitreous cavity are internalized by retinal ganglion cells and protect them from ischemia-induced death in-vivo. Furthermore, we show novel preservation protocols that retain mitochondrial function and most importantly, also retain their protective effect against cell death in-vitro. Successful accomplishment of this project will revolutionize the treatment of ischemic diseases.