USA – A Northwestern Medicine study’s findings could lead to an effective glaucoma treatment, which would be a significant step forward in the fight against the condition.
The Northwestern University Fienberg School of Medicine researchers used mouse models to identify novel glaucoma treatment targets, such as preventing a severe pediatric form of the condition.
The groundbreaking study also discovered a potential new class of glaucoma treatment for the most common form of the disease in adults.
The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications in a paper titled, “Cellular crosstalk regulates the aqueous humor outflow pathway and provides new targets for glaucoma therapies.”
Glaucoma affects over 60 million people worldwide and is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60.
Fluid within the eye does not drain properly in people with high-pressure glaucoma, resulting in a buildup of pressure on the optic nerve and vision loss.
The most common type of glaucoma in adults, open-angle glaucoma, is treated with eye drops, oral medication, and laser treatments.
However, there is currently no glaucoma treatment for congenital glaucoma, which occurs in children under the age of three and can only be treated with surgery.
“Although primary congenital glaucoma is much rarer than open angle glaucoma, it is devastating for children,” explained corresponding author Susan Quaggin, MD, chief of nephrology and hypertension in the department of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. New treatments and new classes of treatments are urgently needed to slow vision loss in both forms.”
To carry out their research, the team used gene editing to create novel glaucoma models in mice that resembled congenital glaucoma.
The researchers gave mice a new, long-lasting, and non-toxic protein glaucoma treatment called Hepta-ANGPT1, which replaced the function of genes that cause glaucoma when they were mutated.
Using this injectable treatment, the team was able to successfully prevent the condition from developing in one of the models.
When the same glaucoma treatment was injected into the eyes of healthy adult mice, it reduced eye pressure, indicating that it could be an effective treatment for open-angle glaucoma.
The researchers are now working on developing a suitable delivery system for the ground-breaking glaucoma protein treatment in patients, bringing it one step closer to commercial production.