Many people with diabetes develop eye complications, but a new study claims that the damage such conditions cause to the retina could be prevented with a new therapy.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Centre have identified a compound that could be controlled to stop the injury diabetic retinopathy causes to the retina.
They claim that by targeting two mechanisms at the route of the disease - inflammation and weakening blood barrier - they will be able to stop blood vessel leakage and eventual blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which weakens the blood-retinal barrier.
Targeting VEGF has been shown to produce a positive response in many patients, but researchers believe that there is an inflammatory component to the condition that also needs targeting.
They have now shown that by blocking atypical protein kinase C, they are able to prevent retina damage.
Dr David A Antonetti, researcher on the study, commented: "This is a great leap forward. We've identified an important target in regulating blood vessel leakage in the eye and we have a therapy that works in animal models."
While more research is required, the findings hold great promise for preventing diabetes related blindness in the UK.
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