The Fas pathway is one of the body’s primary mechanisms for inducing programmed cell death (apoptosis). Research conducted in the labs of Dr. David Zacks, ONL’s chief science officer, and others has clearly demonstrated the role that the Fas pathway plays in modulating photoreceptor apoptosis. This death pathway is activated extracellularly when the photoreceptor/RPE interface is disrupted due to retinal diseases or conditions. This causes the body to naturally produce a Fas ligand/protein that binds to its receptor, triggering the systematic orchestration of apoptosis of the photoreceptors through a multi-step process.
Researchers have successfully demonstrated the link between Fas pathway activation and a number of retinal diseases and conditions. Evaluation of rat models of retinal detachment show clear Fas pathway activity, while multiple models of dry AMD, including human cadaver eyes, demonstrate similar upregulation of the pathway.