February 01, 2005.
Laboratory News Magazine (UK).
A NEW treatment developed by scientists in the States is set to eradicate diabetic retinopathy altogether. This condition is the leading cause of blindness outside the elderly - in the USA it causes 12,000 to 24,000 cases of blindness each year.
The University of Florida has reported that scientists have prevented blindness in mice afflicted with a condition similar to one that robs thousands of diabetics of their sight each year. For the first time, researchers have described the link between a protein known as SDF-1 and retinopathy.
They used a common antibody to block the formation of SDF-1 in the eyeballs of mice with simulated retinopathy, ending the explosive blood vessel growth that characterises the condition.
This effectively silenced SDF-1' signal to activate normally helpful blood stem cells, which become too much of a good thing within the close confines of the eyeball.
"SDF-1 is themain thing that tells blood stem cells where to go," said Edward Scott, an Associate Professor ofMolecular Genetics at the UF Shands Cancer Centre.
"If you get a cut, the body makes SDF-1 at the injury site and the repair cells sniff it out. The concentration of SDF-1 is higher where the cut occurs and it quickly dissipates. But the eye and the repair cells sniff it out. The concentration of SDF-1 is higher where the cut occurs and it quickly dissapates.
"The eye is such a unique place, you'e got this bag of jelly - the vitreous - that just sits there and it fills up with SDF-1.
"The SDF-1 doesn' break down. It continues to call the new blood vessels to come that way, causing all the problems."
Source URL: http://www.labnews.co.uk/news_12.htm.
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