Valproic acid "may halt vision loss"

Valproic acid "may halt vision loss"

A new study has suggested that valproic acid may be effective in helping to reduce vision loss in those suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School claim that valproic acid, which is approved by the FDA to reduce seizures, treat migraines and manage bipolar disorder, appears to have an effect in halting vision loss in patients with RP and also improved field of vision in many patients.

Dr Shalesh Kaushal, chair of ophthalmology and associate professor of ophthalmology and cell biology at the university, said that, as inflammation and cell death are key components of RP, the acid protects photoreceptor cells from this.

"If our observations can be further substantiated by randomised clinical trials then low dose valproic acid could have tremendous potential to help the thousands of people suffering from RP," the expert noted.

It comes after research on mice by a team at the Johns Hopkins University"s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences found that people with severe visual impairment or blindness may one day be able to see clearly again. 

by Adrian Galbreth

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