Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is the leading cause of vision abnormalities in premature babies. In adults, it is diabetic retinopathy, which results in sight loss. These eye disorders occur when the blood vessels develop in an uncontrolled manner so that it blocks the light from reaching the retina. This is how exactly, it ends up in total blindness.
The one cause of developing retinopathy in premature babies is the use of high levels of oxygen in incubators. It occurred as an epidemic in the 1940s when the hospital nursies began using excessively high levels of oxygen in incubators to save the life of infants. This ROP often resolves as time passes, but not always.
The study and its findings
Scientists from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), after researching with mice, found a therapeutic compound to reverse the vision loss that occurred due to retinopathy. They analyzed blood vessels in newborn mice that naturally disappear shortly after birth. While doing so, they observed some proteins like endothelial ETS transcription factors, which reduces as the blood vessel reaches the optimal growth. Therefore, they identified that this protein acts as a switch to eliminate the unwanted growth of blood vessels.
The protein which enhances the blood vessel growth was under control when the researchers developed a compound YK-4-279. This drug slows down the growth of abnormal blood vessels while leaving healthy ones aside. They published the study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The authors said that they wanted to trick blood vessels in diseased mice into thinking they were supposed to be regressing and naturally dying off.
This study will create more impact in the future to treat eye disorders. It will definitely help in the tumor studies, as it produces more abnormal blood vessels. Yet more research is indeed essential to further improve the therapeutic aspects in the medical field.
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Source: Medical Xpress