University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers have discovered that a drug already prescribed to millions of people with diabetes could also have another important use: treating one of the world's leading causes of blindness.
In laboratory rat and cell-culture experiments, the scientists found that metformin, which is commonly used to control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes, also substantially reduced the effects of uveitis, an inflammation of the tissues just below the outer surface of the eyeball. Uveitis causes 10 to 15 percent of all cases of blindness in the United States, and is responsible for an even higher proportion of blindness globally. The only treatment now available for the disorder is steroid therapy, which has serious side effects and cannot be used long-term.
"Uveitis has various causes — the most common are infectious diseases and autoimmune disorders— but they all produce inflammation within the eye," said UTMB professor Kota V. Ramana, senior author of a paper on the study now online in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. "Metformin inhibits the process that causes that inflammation."
The scientists discovered metformin's efficacy when they tested it in rats given an endotoxin that mimicked the inflammatory effects of bacterial infection. The results showed clearly that metformin was a very effective anti-uveitis agent.
"We found that the drug is therapeutic as well as preventive — if we gave our rats the drug beforehand, they didn't develop uveitis, and if we gave it after uveitis had developed, it was therapeutic," said UTMB professor Satish Srivastava, also an author of the IOVS paper. "Metformin's strong anti-inflammatory properties make this possible."
According to the researchers, metformin works by activating an enzyme called AMPK, which in turn damps down the activity of the protein NF-kappa B. The inhibition of NF-kappa B suppresses the production of inflammatory signaling molecules — cytokines and chemokines — needed to initiate and sustain uveitis.
Because metformin is already used so widely as a therapy for diabetes, the UTMB scientists believe that it has a good chance of being rapidly adopted as an anti-uveitis drug.
"I think after a few more pre-clinical studies are done, we can get this drug to patients in a shorter time than usual," Ramana said. "Its safety is already known, so all that we need to see is its efficacy in humans."
Other authors of the IOVS paper include postdoctoral fellows Nilesh Kalariya and Shoeb Mohammad, and Professor Naseem Ansari. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Jim Kelly | EurekAlert!
The genes are not to blame
20.07.2018 | Technische Universität München
Targeting headaches and tumors with nano-submarines
20.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences