Stories about: retinopathy

Light-activated nanoparticles could avoid painful eye injections for ‘wet’ macular degeneration

Could intravitreal injections become a thing of the past?
(PHOTO: ZKALILA1998 / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

There are two standard treatments for “wet” age-related macular degeneration (AMD), in which abnormal, leaky blood vessels in the back of the eye lead to fluid buildup and vision loss. The first, injection of medication directly into the eye, can be painful and can cause inflammation, infection and detachment of the retina. The second, ablation therapy, uses lasers to destroy the leaky blood vessels. It, too, is unpleasant to undergo, and the lasers can also destroy surrounding healthy tissue, causing further vision loss.

In today’s Nature Communications, the lab of Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, provides proof-of-concept of a more tolerable alternative: tiny, drug-carrying nanoparticles that can be injected intravenously, but deliver medication only to the eye.

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Blocking bad vessels: A new target for retinopathy, macular degeneration

blood vessels retinopathy

The development of blood vessels is a part of normal growth in almost all tissues. But it can also be pathological: Many eye conditions leading to blindness involve abnormal blood vessel formation, including retinopathy of prematurity in infants, diabetic retinopathy and wet, age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Blood vessels produced under stress conditions such as inflammation or low oxygen, especially in the retina, are apt to be poorly constructed and leaky. Vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, has been shown to contribute to pathologic vessel growth, and anti-VEGF treatments are now widely used to control the overproliferation of blood vessels, such as Lucentis for wet macular degeneration.

Unfortunately, VEGF-binding antibodies can block not just excess VEGF but the baseline normal amount needed for vessels and neighboring neurons to survive, with potentially serious side effects.

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More accolades for omega 3’s

Omega-3’s are emerging superheroes in the nutrition world. Over two decades ago, scientists noticed that Greenland Eskimos had very low rates of coronary heart disease compared to Western populations. Their secret, it turned out, was eating fish—particularly, fatty fishes like salmon that contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids.

An avalanche of studies have since demonstrated the cardiovascular health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, also found in flax seeds and walnuts, as well as suggesting benefits in combating depression, rheumatoid arthritis and some types of cancer, and in boosting cognitive function.

And now comes more evidence that they can prevent blindness.

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