Potential drug treatment for cataracts

An international team of scientists led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has announced “extremely positive results” from laboratory trials of a compound that could one day offer a non-operative option for cataract treatment, which is currently curable only by surgical replacement of the lens.

The team tested the effect on the optics of the lens of treatment with an oxysterol compound called VP1-001, which was applied to one eye in 26 mice.  Results showed that treatment with VP1-001 produced an improvement in the refractive index profiles in 61% of the treated lenses, showing that the protein organisation of the lens was being restored, resulting in the lens being better able to focus. They also showed a reduction in lens opacity in 46% of cases after oxysterol treatment.

Team leader Prof Barbara Pierscionek, Deputy Dean for research and innovation in the Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care at ARU, said: “This study has shown the positive effects of a compound that had been proposed as an anti-cataract drug but never before tested on the optics of the lens.” However, she noted: “Improvements occurred in some types of cataract, but not in all, indicating that this may be a treatment for specific cataracts. This suggests distinctions may need to be made between cataract types when developing anti-cataract medications.”

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