28 May 2015
Research conducted by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland has suggested a potential new way to prevent diabetes-associated blindness.
Their findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, determined that blocking a second blood vessel growth protein, along with one that is already well-known, could offer new treatment potential.
The disease, diabetic retinopathy, is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults across the developed world. It occurs when the eye's normal blood vessels are replaced with abnormal, leaky, fragile blood vessels over time, which leak fluid or bleed into the eye and damages the retina.
According to Dr Akrit Sodhi, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, blocking VEGF - a so-called growth factor in response to low oxygen levels, which stimulates the growth of new, often abnormal, blood vessels - has already shown to slow progression of proliferative diabetic retinopathy but does not consistently prevent it.
Led by Dr Savalan Babapoor-Farrokhran, a new study tested levels of VEGF in samples of eye fluid from healthy people, people with diabetes who did not have diabetic retinopathy and people with diabetic retinopathy of varying severity.
"The results suggested to us that although VEFG clearly plays an important role in blood vessel growth, it's not the only factor," Dr Sodhi says.
Posted by Edward Bartel
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