A compound that may interrupt the sequence of events causing damage to the retina in diabetic retinopathy has identified by researchers from University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. The discovery is very important as it could lead to new therapy, targeting two mechanisms at the root of the disease.
The root causes of diabetic retinopathy are inflammation and the weakening of the blood barrier, which protect the retina from infection. In diabetic retinopathy, damage to the retina occurs from the activity of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in part VEGF is a protein that weakens the shielding blood-retinal barrier.
The latest drugs aiming vascular endothelial growth factor have shown good reaction in nearly half of the patients suffering diabetic retinotherapy. But experts believe that there is also an inflammatory constituent which may contribute to progression of the disease. The research identifies a specific protein common to both pathways as a significant target in controlling the disease process.
In disease process, blood vessels become leaky and provide a drug that may be developed into a remedial intercession for patients in which alone anti vascular endothelial growth factor treatment is not enough. Till date, treatments for diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of blindness among working-age group, has been targeted mainly at one of those mechanisms.
The compound targets unusual protein called kinase C (aPKC), needed for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) to generate blood vessels leak. In addition to that researchers exhibited that the compound is effective at blocking damage from tumour necrosis factor, which is also elevated in diabetic retinopathy and that comprises part of the inflammation.
Study leader Prof David A. Antonetti, from Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Molecular and Integrative Physiology, explained in diabetic retinopathy and a host of other retinal diseases, increases in VEGF and inflammatory factors cause blood vessels in the eye to leak which, in turn, results in a buildup of fluid in the neural tissue of the retina.
This insidious form of modified inflammation can eventually lead to blindness. They have identified a significant target in regulating blood vessel leakage in the eye and have a therapy that works in animal models. Their research is in the early stages of development. They still have a long way to go to demonstrate effectiveness of this compound in humans to create a new therapy but the results are very promising, added Prof Antonetti.
The study was published in the Biochemical Journal.