UAB Undergrad Awarded Grant to Study Drug's Effect on Retinal Disease

UAB Undergrad Awarded Grant to Study Drug's Effect on Retinal Disease

Hubbard will study the drug's effects on the retina.

Fight for Sight, a foundation that has provided funding for vision research since 1946, has awarded a grant of $2,500 to Seth Hubbard, an undergraduate student studying neuroscience and member of the Honors College at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The grant allows Hubbard to study the potential sight-boosting effects of a drug, commonly used to treat heart disease, on the retinas of mice.

Retinitis pigmentosa, an eye ailment, affects nearly 40 percent of people with inherited retinal disease, yet there are no known universal therapies for treatment. A Fight for Sight collaborator identified carvedilol, a drug used for heart disease, while screening zebrafish expressing rhodopsin Q344X, a mutation found in humans that causes autosomal dominant RP. Upon treatment, it was found the mutant fish's sensation of dim light improved, and rod cells within the retina were preserved.

Hubbard will test the efficacy of carvedilol in rhodopsin Q344X mice by examining the carvedilol-treated retina and comparing it to untreated controls at different time points. The post-treatment analysis of these mice will reveal any potential delays in retinal degeneration.

"I am beyond grateful to have been selected for this honor, the $2,500 and the opportunity to continue my work on delaying retinal degeneration using an FDA-approved drug," Hubbard said.

Hubbard aspires to join an MD/PhD program and continue his love for vision science through specializing in ophthalmology postgraduation and performing vision research.