New York: A cure is now in sight for the dangerous eye disease glaucoma, which is a leading cause of irreversible blindness, says a new study.
Glaucoma appears to be a consequence of mechanical dysfunction of endothelial cells - a thin layer of cells that is the final barrier to fluid entering Schlemm's canal, from where fluid drains from the eye
"Our work shows that cells of this endothelial layer act as mechanical gates. Therapeutic strategies that alter the stiffness of these cells could potentially lead to a cure for this debilitating disease," said senior study author Mark Johnson from the Northwestern University in the US.
Glaucoma is associated with elevated pressure in the eye. This elevated pressure essentially is due to a plumbing problem.
Fluid builds up in the eye, increasing pressure and eventually damaging the optic nerve.
For nearly 150 years, researchers have been trying to understand what causes the blockage that prevents the eye from draining properly.
"The work appears to be one of the first times that the methods of mechanobiology - the study of the mechanical characteristics of cells - have been used to show that dysfunctional cell mechanics lies at the heart of a disease process," Johnson said.
The findings were published in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).