Heart Drug Could Hold Key To Reducing Diabetes-Related Blindness
A drug originally designed to combat cardiovascular disease might have the potential to curtail diabetes-induced blindness, according to a new study conducted by Queen's University, Belfast researchers.
The most common everyday treatment for patients battling blindness caused by diabetes is an injection directly into the eye every 4 to 6 weeks. The treatment tends to be expensive and is ineffective for nearly half of the patients who undergo the procedure.
Researchers now claim that the drug Darapladib can inhibit an enzyme in diabetic people that causes blood vessel leaks, swelling of the retinas and vision impairment. The drug can be taken in tablet form and eliminates the need for monthly injections.
Recent WHO Global Health Estimates claim that over 422 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, and 7 percent of them will experience vision loss. By hindering the enzyme that contributes to diabetic-related blindness, researchers hope that Darapladib can eventually provide a cost-effective and convenient treatment for those who haven’t responded well to standard treatments.
“We have found that an enzyme called Lp-PLA2 contributes to blood vessel damage and leakiness in the retina,” said Professor Alan Stitt, lead author of the study. “The drug Darapladib acts as inhibitor of Lp-PLA2, and was originally developed for cardiovascular disease. Based on our breakthrough, we are now planning a clinical trial and if successful we could soon see an alternative, pain-free and cost effective treatment for diabetic related blindness."