Promising Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
By: Felicia Breedy
American Diabetes Association–funded researcher Jian-xing (Jay) Ma, MD, PhD, has published results from his project, “A novel renoprotective factor in diabetic nephropathy” in the journal Diabetes. With his Basic Science Award, he has found a potential new treatment for diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of the eyes that can cause blindness in those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The treatment consists of a natural human peptide (a chain of amino acids). These eighty amino acids exist in the normal human eye. Dr. Ma has formulated this peptide gene in nanoparticles (microscopic particles) to achieve sustained release and long-term effects in diabetic rat models.
Dr. Ma's research in nephropathy and retinopathy are related in their study of the inhibition of the abnormal growth of new blood vessels and their role in diabetic complications. His research is an example of how an investigation of one specific area can uncover new information in a different but related area.
Development of retinopathy begins with changes in blood vessels of the retina, the light-sensitive tissues at the back of the eye. In some cases, the blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In other cases, there is abnormal growth of new blood vessels on the surface of the retina. Over a period of time the results can cause vision loss and blindness. Dr. Ma and his research team discovered that the leakage and inflammation occurring in the eye were due to an imbalance of two systems.
Treatment goals for diabetic retinopathy are to suppress the leakage and the abnormal formation of blood vessels. Previous studies have identified peptide treatments that accomplish these goals but the dilemma was to sustain the treatment delivery. Thus, Dr. Ma developed the nanoparticle technology and its tested results showed a decrease in the symptoms of retinopathy in the diabetic rats. This treatment delivery system has the potential to treat other ocular disorders as well and could be developed into new therapies such a eye drops to stop diabetic retinopathy.
This information was obtained from press release by the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Ma conducts his research at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
(Park K, Chen Y, Hu Y, Mayo AS, Kompella UB, Longeras R, Ma JX. Nanoparticle-mediated Expression of an Angiogenic Inhibitor Ameliorates Ischemia-induced Retinal Neovascularization and Diabetes-induced Retinal Vascular Leakage. Diabetes. 2009 Jun 2. [Epub ahead of print])
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