A team of scientists from Trinity University Dublin has announced an important development of a new treatment for glaucoma.
About 80 million people worldwide suffer from glaucoma and this figure is projected to increase to more than 110 million by 2040.
Although topical eye drops are essential to prevent progression of the disease, up to 10% of patients become resistant to treatment, putting them at risk of permanent vision loss.
Elevated eye pressure is known to be a major risk factor for the development of glaucoma (or glaucoma). A dangerous increase in pressure in the eyeball can cause severe damage to the optic disc, which transmits light signals to the brain so that we can see.
This high pressure is caused by a buildup of unwanted proteins, leading to clogged drainage channels, which over time can cause fluid to build up and increase pressure.
The Smurfit Genetics Institute team, in collaboration with biotech company Exhaura Ltd, has shown that a gene therapy approach can reduce intraocular pressure in preclinical models of glaucoma.
A single injection of a viral vector — essentially a virus that scientists have hacked to use to communicate specific instructions to the body’s cells — can increase the flow of aqueous humor from the front of the eye and thus lower intraocular pressure.
The basic instruction for cells to produce a matrix enzyme (metalloproteinase-3 or MMP-3) helps kickstart this process.
Professor Matthew Campbell, professor of genetics at Trinity University, said: “This exciting project has allowed us to bridge the gap between academia and industry and work closely with a gene therapy company to develop an advanced treatment that we believe holds great promise. for patients in the future.”
It is important to note that several disease models were used in the work, and human donor eyes were also used to study the therapeutic efficacy of gene therapy approaches. This makes impressive results more promising.
Gene therapy has made tremendous progress in recent years, with several drugs currently approved by both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). However, to date, all approved gene therapies are for rare or extremely rare conditions.
As our understanding of the mechanism underlying common diseases has become more advanced, the concept of using gene therapy for common diseases has become possible.
Dr. Geoffrey O’Callaghan, Trinity University research fellow and first author of the study, added: “Our new gene therapy approach to treating glaucoma is the culmination of more than seven years of research. We now hope that this treatment will pave the way for the development of treatments for other forms of the disease.” Blinding of the eyes.”
The study was conducted by an interdisciplinary team of geneticists, ophthalmologists and interdisciplinary biologists.
The results are published in the journal Science Advances.
Source: Medical Express