These Blind Mice

Study looks at drug's efficacy in treating diabetic retinopathy

(RxWiki News) A $1.5 million grant from the National Eye Institute will enable scientists to look at whether a drug shown to restore retinal health in mice will work for humans.

Dr. Sylvia Smith, retinal cell biologist and co-director of the Vision Discovery Institute at the Medical College of Georgia, said the funds will help researchers determine if the drug has the potential to block the visual disturbances associated with diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in working-age Americans.

In diabetic retinopathy, retinas -- the tissue at the back of the eye responsible for vision -- are damaged from high glucose levels as they contend with daily assaults from sunlight and other external forces.

Smith and cohorts will analyze how and when a pain-relieving drug, which appears to interrupt the first wave of cell destruction in mice in early diabetes stages, works by reducing cell stress. However, since mice can't read vision charts, it may be hard to determine whether heathy-appearing retinas translate to better vision, Smith said.

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Review Date: 
December 29, 2010