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Treating eye conditions

Irish researchers have developed a new approach to treat glaucoma, tested first in mice and monkeys.

Glaucoma affects around 80 million people and results in damage to the brain’s optic nerve, usually due to the build-up of pressure and fluid in the eye, and may lead to blindness. Although eye drops are the main treatment, 10% of people become resistant to this approach and risk permanent vision loss.

Research at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, collaborating with biotechnology company Exhaura, developed a gene therapy that produces a specific network of proteins to target the pressure build-up seen in glaucoma.

The treatment was given to mice as a single injection to the eye and the team saw that it increased the flow of fluid from the eye and thereby decreased pressure. The researchers also showed that the approach was safe in monkeys, as well as effective when assessed using donor human eyes.

Professor Matthew Campbell, at Trinity, said in a recent Q&A: “The non-human primate eye is an ideal model for the human eye as it’s almost identical in an anatomical sense, but on a slightly smaller scale.”


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