A group of researches have tested new eye drops on dogs and found that field experts may one day use these meds to cure the condition. As a bonus, patients will also end up saving some money.
Dr. Kang Zhang, lead researcher and field expert from Sun Yat-sen University (Guangzhou), gave a statement informing that cataracts are the most often encountered cause of blindness in human patients as the debilitating growths cloud the vision of tens of millions of individuals across the planet. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to either partial or even complete loss of vision.
The test results showed that when the researchers used an eye dropper to administer lanosterol to dogs, the compound shrank their cataracts. Lanosterol is a molecule that occurs naturally and keeps the proteins responsible for cataracts from cluttering
The only cure currently available for cataracts is surgery. The procedure is considered to be a safe and simple one, however the number of people who find themselves in need of it is growing at an alarming rate. In fact, their number is expected to double somewhere in the upcoming 20 years. It’s a grim prediction as 30.000 surgeries are already being performed on a yearly basis, in the US alone.
As modern day people live longer lives and the world’s population becomes older, more and more people will have to deal with cataracts. And even though the surgery required to treat the condition isn’t associated with a high risk, many individuals aren’t crazy about the idea as the procedure is quite costly.
For their study, Dr. Zhang and his team looked at two of the lead researcher’s patients. They were children who came from families where people were born with the disease. They themselves had inherited it from other family members.
After performing several tests, the research team found that both patients shared the same mutation – a gene that prevented them from producing the proper amount of lanosterol.
The next step was to conduct lab experiments on cell samples. After these proved to be successful and confirmed Dr. Zhang’s hunch by keeping the proteins away from one another, the researchers took their work a step even further.
This next faze involved testing the treatment on dog subjects who had naturally-occurring cataracts. The field experts added lanosterol to some eye drops and treated the canines with the mix for six weeks. At the end of this time frame, Dr. Zhang and his team concluded that the cataracts had significantly decreased.
The researchers stressed that their work “identifies lanosterol as a key molecule in the prevention of lens protein aggregation”. They went on to add that they also found a new and innovative strategy for preventing and treating cataract.
J. Fielding Hejtmancik, a scientist working for the Unites States National Eye Institute, wrote a comment on the study saying that these findings are very preliminary. He stresses that before any human trials can start, the researchers will have to also test other molecules in order to see whether or not any of them could work better.
He insists that lanosterol eye drops aren’t necessarily the best or the only compound that can treat the disease.
The study was published earlier this week, on Wednesday (July 22, 2015), in the journal Nature.
Image Source: med-c.com