A team led by Krzysztof Palczewski, Ph.D., chair of pharmacology at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, has taken the first steps in treating an eye disease causing irreversible congenital blindness in millions of people worldwide by successfully testing two new treatments in mice.
Publishing in this months open access journal PLoS Medicine, the researchers found that these treatments "provide highly effective and complementary means for restoring retinal function in this animal model of human hereditary blindness."
The disease studied is Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), characterized by severe loss of vision at birth. Its causes are not fully understood. Researchers believe that the disease might be due to abnormal development of photoreceptor cells in the retina, extremely premature degeneration of these cells, or lack of essential metabolic ingredients necessary for vision in the cells. In a subset of these diseases, it is known that the retina stops functioning due to loss of the lecithin retinol acyl-transferase enzyme (LRAT). LRAT is required for regeneration of a pigment necessary for the eye to detect light.
George Stamatis | EurekAlert!
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