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New eye drops may prevent a common cause of blindness

eye drops

Eye Drops fpr prevention of blindness

Columbia University Irving Medical Center researchers developed eye drops that could prevent visual loss in millions of adults following retinal vein occlusion.

An experimental treatment, aimed at a common cause of neurodegeneration and vascular leakage in the eye, in a mice study, suggests more broad-based effects than existing therapeutic effects.

Retinal vein occlusion occurs when a major vein blocks blood from the retina, usually because of blood coagulation. As a result, blood and other fluids leak to the retina causing damage to neurons called photoreceptors that have specialized light sensing.

The new treatment targets an enzyme known as caspase-9 which is supposed to be primarily involved in programmed cell death, a strictly controlled process to eliminate damaged or excess cells naturally.

However, in studies of mice, the Troy lab discovered that when blood vessels are injured by retinal vein occlusion, the caspase-9 becomes uncontrollably activated, triggering processes that can damage the retina.

The Troy laboratory found that an extremely selective inhibitor of Caspase-9, provided as eye drops, enhanced a variety of clinical retinal function measures in a mouse model. The treatment reduces swelling in the retina most importantly, improves blood flow, and reduces neuronal damage.

Moving forward, the Troy lab will also study whether Caspase-9 inhibitors can be used to treat other vascular injuries caused by overactivation of the enzyme, including diabetic macular edema (another common cause of blindness) and stroke.

In Phase I clinical trial, the researchers are getting ready to test the eye drops of people with retina vein occlusion.

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