One Paragraph on Eye drops for Cataracts | One Paragraph Science
Cataracts are primarily a disease of ageing. Instead of an operating to remove them, researchers are trying to make a cataract-dissolving-eye drops which can break down cataracts and restore transparency of the lens and vision. Cataracts can be successfully removed with surgery, but this method is costly, and most individuals blinded by severe cataracts in developing countries go untreated. A characteristic of the condition is the mis-folding and clumping together of crucial proteins known as crystallins. So that our lenses are able to function well, crystallins (which we are born and live our whole lives with) must maintain both the transparency of fibre cells and their flexibility as the eyes' muscles constantly stretch and relax the lens to allow us to focus on objects at different distances. Scientists at the University of California San Francisco exploited a key difference between correctly folded crystallins and their amyloid forms; finding that amyloids are much harder to dissolve. After researching over 2450 compounds and reducing them down to 12 they finally came to find, what they named, Compound 29. Compound 29 is both dissolvable in solution (so can be given in eye drops) and has the ability to dissolve amyloids that had already been formed. Results were observed when Compound 29 eye drops were applied in mice that naturally developed age-related cataracts, and also when the compound was applied to human lens tissue affected by cataracts that had been removed during surgery. This technique will also be a great benefit to dogs that are also prone to developing cataracts as they grow old. Besides Compound 29's potential for cataract treatment, the insights gained through the research could have broader applications, especially in neurodegenerative disorders.