According tomedia New Atlas, there are many factors that affect our vision, but a common source of vision loss is blockage in the main veins of the eyeball, which prevents it from draining properly and damaging the retina. This is called retinal venous infarcce. Scientists at Columbia University have developed a potential new treatment to intervene in the form of eye drops to protect retinal function, and human trials are under way.
Retinal venous obstruction affects millions of adults around the world every year. Blockages are usually caused by blood clots that cause blood and other fluids to penetrate the retina, where they can damage the light-sensitive cells that are critical to perceiving and responding to light. Current treatments include injecting multiple drugs directly into the eyes, which is not only uncomfortable, but in many cases does not prevent loss of vision.
Given the prevalence of this situation and the limited nature of today’s treatments, there is considerable interest in the development of new treatments. The Columbia university team has been working on potential solutions for mice, and a recent very useful finding has been the action of an enzyme called caspase-9. This enzyme plays an important role in the death of procedural cells, in which damaged or unnecessary cells are marked as destroyed, so they can be removed from the body and replaced by healthy new cells. However, the researchers found that when the retina is enseded and blood vessels are damaged, caspase-9’s activity gets out of control, damaging the retina.
So the team experimented with a new treatment that processed a highly selective caspase-9 inhibitor into eye drops for use in mice. This local therapy inhibits caspase-9 activity and protects retinal function by reducing swelling, boosting blood flow and preventing damage to all important photoreceptor cells.
“We believe these eye drops may have several advantages over existing treatments,” said Carol M. Troy of Columbia University, who led the study. In addition, our eye drops target different pathways to retinal damage and may therefore help patients who are not responding to current treatments. “
Encouraged by these encouraging results in mice, the team has now set its sights on human subjects and is preparing for phase I clinical trials. It also hopes to target caspase-9 in this way, which could lead to new treatments for other diseases caused by overstimulation, including stroke and diabetic macular edema, another cause of blindness.
“Vascular dysfunction is at the heart of many chronic neurological and retinal diseases, because the high energy needs of the brain and eyes make these tissues particularly vulnerable to interruptions in blood supply,” said Maria Avrutsky, lead author of the study.
The study was published in the journal Nature-Communications.