Dr. Riccardo Natoli
What is your current research interest?
Non/low-invasive therapeutics for slowing the progression of retinal degeneration.
How long have you been in the Vision Lab?
What is your favourite experiment?
The experiment I haven't done yet.
What are your favourite hobbies outside of the lab?
Drumming, gardening, spending time with my awesome family
What is your favourite cuisine?
I am an Early Career Researcher teaching Genetics at the ANU Medical School and conducting research at the John Curtin School of Medical Research. My primary research interest is in the study of factors causing blindness, predominantly photoreceptor degeneration, and in devising therapies for protecting against vision loss. My lab studies diseases such as Retinopathy of Prematurity, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Diabetic Retinopathy and Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). The most common cause of blindness in Australia is AMD, costing the Australian economy ~5 billion dollars annually (Deloitte – Eyes on the Future, 2011). Current projections indicate that by 2030, 1.7 million people in Australia will have vision loss resulting from AMD. The risk factors for AMD are well known, as is the association with underlying inflammatory dysregulation.
My most recent work has been involved in elucidating the role of miRNA in the degenerating retina, there role in modulating inflammation and there potential use as therapeutics. In my PhD studies (completed 2009) I used molecular approaches to investigate the effects of novel ‘anti-oxidant’ therapeutics, including 670nm light and saffron, in a retinal degeneration model (Natoli et al., 2010). This work revealed that a large number of non-coding RNA are regulated in the degenerating retina. This has lead me to investigate miRNA in retinal degeneration, and to verify in my most recent publication (Saxena, et al…Natoli., 2015, IOVS) the modulation of 37 known miRNA in the rat model of retinal degeneration and inflammation. We are currently trialing the use of these miRNA as therapeutics for the treatment of the currently untreatable form of AMD.