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Advances fighting 2 causes of blindness

March 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Scientists at the University of Utah are making huge advances in their attempt to reverse the effects of two major eye diseases that can lead to blindness.Researchers have successfully activated a protein in mice that both prevented and reversed age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. The protein is called Robo4. When triggered, it reversed abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye, and stabilized the vessels to prevent leakage.

For people like Ralph Johnson, this advance could make a big difference in his ability to see.

"Most of the things I can see -- pretty much everybody in the room, except their face," said Johnson. "It'd be hard to see your face."

"So in this case, take this Robo pathway of drugs which activate Robo4 directly, for example, inject them into the eyes to treat the two leading causes of blindness," said Ng Zhang, M.D., Ph.D. with Moran Eye Center Visual Sciences.

Results of the mouse models look so good right now, human clinical trials are sure to follow. Those trials could begin within five years.

 

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