Finally scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have discovered an easy and affordable cure for cataract. This particular eye disease is the leading cause of blindness. However, now scientists have discovered a new chemical which can be added to eye drops which will help in clearing up the cataracts.
Researchers said, that many people who suffered with cataracts could not afford the treatment. Surgery was the only successful option available to remove cataract completely. Since surgery was an expensive option many individuals blinded by severe cataracts in developing countries and were untreated.
Primarily considered as a disease of ageing. Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are the two neurodegenerative conditions where cataract is seen. Misfolding and clumping together of crucial proteins is a hallmark this condition.
Crystallins are the affected proteins in case of cataracts.
The major component if the fibre cells are Crystallins, and these form the eyes’ lenses. As these cells have some unique properties, it makes it vulnerable to damage, as said by co-senior author of the research paper, Jason Gestwicki, from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
Leah N Makley and Kathryn McMenimen, conducted a new study in which they exploited a vital difference between appropriately folded crystallins and their amyloid forms: amyloids are somewhat harder to melt.
A method known as high-throughput differential scanning fluorimetry, or HT-DSF was used by a team At the University of Michigan (U-M)’s Centre for Chemical Genomics. In this method they applied heat to amyloids while applying thousands of chemical compounds.
Initially they began with 2,450 compounds, further zeroing in on 12 which are members of a chemical class which is known as sterols. lanosterol, was one of then that showed a way to reverse cataracts in a June, 2015 paper in the journal Nature. Since lanosterol had limited solubility, to exert if effects the group had to inject the compound into the eye.
32 additional sterols were tested by Gestwicki and his group. They ultimately settled on “compound 29,” which was considered as the most probable candidate to be used in cataract-dissolving eye drops as it was sufficiently soluble. Laboratory dish test proved that compound 29 was significantly stabilised crystallins and disallowed them from developing amyloids.
They also confirmed that Compound 29 could also dissolve amyloids that were pre-existing. Next this compound 20 was tested in an eye-drop formulation in mice carrying mutations that make them predisposed to cataracts.
Usha P Andley, professor at Washington University in St Louis (WUSTL), in an experiment found that the drops to some extent restored transparency to mouse lenses affected by cataracts.
When compound 29 eye drops were applied in mice that naturally developed age-related cataracts, similarly when the compound was applied to human lens tissue affected by cataracts that had been removed during surgery, similar results were seen.