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Small shrew could make a big difference in dry eye research

Breakthroughs in health care can come from unusual places. Jianzhong Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Optometry, and his colleagues may have discovered a new one for dry eyes, a disease that is estimated to affect 26 million Americans.


In a recently published study, Chen aimed to identify the underlying mechanism causing dry eye disease with the help of the tree shrew, a non-primate mammal that is genetically similar to humans. The result was the paper “Lipidomic analysis of meibomian gland secretions from the tree shrew: Identification of candidate tear lipids critical for reducing evaporation,” published in Chemistry and Physics of Lipids.


While tree shrews have been extensively studied as a model for myopia within UAB’s School of Optometry for research surrounding other eye diseases like glaucoma, this is the first on

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