Professor Colin R Green
Gap junction channels enable cells to communicate directly with one another and are necessary for tissue organisation and homeostasis. After injury and in chronic disease, however, gap junction channels cause secondary damage spread, oedema, inflammation and scarring. They also cause vascular leak, for example leading to breach of the blood–retina barrier. Two approaches have been developed that enable regulation of gap junction channels. These tools have provided new insights into the body’s inflammatory response and mechanisms of wound healing, questioning established dogmas. One of the approaches, a topically applied gel, is in phase 2 clinical trials for the healing of venous leg ulcers, having first shown efficacy in the treatment of non healing ocular chemical burns. The second approach, developed for systemic delivery, has proven effective in the treatment of retinal stroke and brain ischaemia in animal models, with significant neuronal sparing and improved outcomes. These approaches have potential for the treatment of chronic conditions such as macular degeneration. Data from a number of models will be highlighted in the context of under-standing and treating acute and chronic ocular conditions.