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New Treatment for Glaucoma Developed

Science Daily, August 7, 2007

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the developed world.  Thanks to U.S. scientists, a new technique may be able to treat the condition which elevates the pressure inside the eye.

The procedure will now be tested on canine patients after enjoying success in rat subjects stated Iowa State University researchers.  Human trials would begin if successful results are observed in the canine phase.

In an attempt to shield against blindness, animals with glaucoma increase production of proteins with neuron-protective capabilities.  This was determined by doctoral student Matt Harper, Associate Professor Donald Sakaguchi, Assistant Professor Sinisa Grozdanic and colleagues.  By modifying bone marrow-derived stem cells and transplanting them into lab rats eyes, the researchers were able to imitate the process in the laboratory.

The rats visual functions after the procedure showed dramatic improvement according to computerized analysis.

"One of the really unique aspects of this approach is that we can isolate these stem cells from the same individual being treated," Sakaguchi said. "It eliminates the ethical issues associated with embryonic stem cells, and the immunological problems of graft rejection."

During a recent meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology the team presented the study.


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