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New eye drops to stave off blindness

PTI | Last Updated: Sunday, October 13, 2013 - 15:48

Washington: A drop a day could keep blindness away!

In a breakthrough, researchers, led by an Indian-origin scientist, have found a potential treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - the leading cause of blindness among elderly - that could be delivered via eye drops.

The study by Tufts University School of Medicine on mice shows promise for clinical use.

The study is first to report successful topical use of a compound capable of inhibiting symptoms associated with both dry AMD (the earlier form) and wet AMD (the rarer, later form) and could represent a breakthrough for treatment of these conditions.

AMD is among the leading causes of blindness among the elderly. Currently, there is no treatment for dry AMD, and wet AMD can only be treated with regular injections into the eye.

Researchers, led by Rajendra Kumar Singh, report that application of pyridoxalphosphate-6-azophenyl-2',4'-disulfonic acid, a compound called PPADS, inhibits damage to the tissues in the eye that impacts the individual's ability to see colour and fine detail, as well as reduces the growth of extraneous blood vessels in the back of the eye related to advanced AMD.

Only the wet form of AMD can be treated, with an ophthalmologist administering injections every four to 12 weeks that can be uncomfortable, risky, and burdensome to patients, researchers said.

The development of a topical eye-drop treatment that works in both dry and wet AMD could increase treatment adherence and reduce patient discomfort by reducing or removing the need for direct injections.

To test the effectiveness of a topical application of PPADS, the team of researchers induced the tissue damage and blood vessel growth characteristics of AMD in anaesthetised mice.

The topical treatment was then administered every 24 hours for three consecutive days. The researchers then examined the eye tissues one week later to assess for progression of the damage and blood vessel growth.

"Our study found that topical application of the PPADS compound works on two fronts. First, it stops the damage to eyes caused by pores formed in the membrane that leads to cell death within the eye by stopping an immune system process known as complement that is responsible for dry AMD. Second, it prevents the formation of the blood vessels that can leak and damage the eye, a process associated with wet AMD," said first author Kerstin Birke.

The study was published in the journal PLoS One.

First Published: Sunday, October 13, 2013 - 15:48

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