A team of scientists has identified a new chemical that can be used as eye drops to reverse cataracts. Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness all over the world. The newly identified compound is the first that is soluble enough to form the basis of a practical eye-drop medication for cataracts.
The research began with 2, 450 compounds, which they further narrowed down to 12 that are members of a chemical class known as sterols. One of these compounds called lanosterol, was shown to reverse cataracts. However, considering that lanosterol had limited solubility, the compound had to be injected into the eye for it to have its effects.
The group had assembled and tested 32 additional sterols and finally settled on one, which they came to call compound 29. This compound was recognized as the most likely candidate for being sufficiently soluble to be used in cataract-dissolving eye drops.
The research team had tested compound 29 in an eye-drop formulation in mice that carried the mutation that predisposed them to cataracts. The researchers were able to find that the eye drop formulation restored transparency to mouse lenses that were affected by cataracts; this was measured by a slit-lamp test used by ophthalmologists to measure human cataracts.
Similar results were seen when compound 29 drops were applied in mice that had naturally developed age-related cataracts. The results were also seen when compound29 was added to human lens tissue affected by cataract that had been removed post surgery.
Cataracts affect more than 20 million people all over the world.
The study had been published in the Journal Science.
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