From this year on, the University of Trento will collect money through taxpayers’ donations to support one specific project, which will be chosen by the Academic Senate year by year. In 2017, the donations will be used to fund research on retinal degenerative diseases.
Blindness, the total or partial loss of vision, is a devastating medical condition with profound consequences on the lives of affected people and their families. The loss of self-sufficiency that comes with the disease has a major impact both on patients and their carers and loved ones, especially when they are children or young people.
One of the diseases that cause total or partial blindness is retinal degeneration, that occurs when retinal cells gradually die. There are different types of retinal degenerations, which have different causes. Of these, macular degeneration is one of the most common age-related conditions, and affects 10% of people over 60 years old and 30% of elderly people above 70. It is estimated that 196 million people have macular degeneration in the world, with 1 million patients in Italy alone. Imagine a city 10 times the size of Trento in total darkness...
Other conditions, like Stargardt disease, Leber's congenital amaurosis, retinitis pigmentosa and many more, are hereditary diseases, that is, they are due to a genetic disorder that is passed down from the parents’ genes. The mutated gene is responsible for the evolution of the disease, which can vary significantly. What all conditions have in common, however, is that they appear at a young age, sometimes in childhood, and can lead to blindness in adults aged between 20 and 40. One can only imagine the difficulties these young patients will face in their life because of this disability.
Lighten up research!
There are currently no definitive cures for retinal degenerations but several clinical trials on possible therapeutic options are underway, even though there is still a long way to go for science, and progress comes at a cost.
The causes of age-related macular degeneration are not clear. What we do know is that there are a number of risk factors (mainly old age, of course, but also smoking, poor diet, obesity), yet scientists do not know how this leads to the death of retinal cells. We also know that there over 100 genes that, if defective, can cause hereditary retinal degeneration, but how this occurs is still unclear. The mechanisms of retinal cell death are unknown, and that is the main reason why currently there is no cure for these conditions.
The Laboratory of Neural Development and Regeneration at CIBIO has been studying retinal diseases using models that reproduce the genetic and phenotypic characteristics of the diseases in humans.
In retinal cells, a genetic anomaly may be associated with the absence of a protein that is of fundamental importance to cells, or with the presence of a defective protein. In both cases, the cell is damaged and may die. The study of the degenerating retina may allow us to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cell death and try to contrast them.
The purpose of this research study is therefore to create a model of retinal degeneration that replicates the genetic and symptomatic characteristics of the human disease. The model will then be used to develop new drug treatments to stop the advancement of the disease, towards a personalised medicine for patients.
Further information: fundraising [at] unitn.it
As the deadline to submit your tax return approaches, you are offered the opportunity to make a donation (5 per thousand) to an organization of your choice. You can freely choose the recipient of your donation, which amounts to a percentage of your taxes.
If you choose to support research you will give Italy and its youth a future of innovation, growth and well-being. This is something the country really needs right now. A responsibility that involves all of us.
How to donate
Just tell it to your tax filing service or accountant when it’s time.
To make your donation to the University of Trento, you have to:
1. sign the appropriate box in the forms that the Revenue Agency uses for tax returns:
- Form CU 2017 - “Scheda per la scelta della destinazione dell’8x1000, del 5x1000 e del 2x1000 dell'IRPEF";
- Form 730/2017 - 2016 tax return;
- Form Unico for natural persons 2017 – 2016 tax return.
You can choose only one recipient for your donation.
Write the University of Trento tax identification number: 00340520220.
Please note that writing the tax identification number is essential to make sure that the University of Trento receives your donation.