"Unexpected" discovery may lead to new eye drugs

"Unexpected" discovery may lead to new eye drugs

An unexpected discovery by experts in Germany may lead to the creation of new drugs targeted at tackling the problem of desensitisation.

That is the opinion of Martha Sommer, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Medicinal Physics and Biophysics at Charite Medical School, who has published a study on the behaviour of arrestin, which binds to light-activated rhodopsin in the eye.

When overexposed, this can often lead to desensitivity in the eye and even cell death if not addressed.

However, a study led by the expert has found that in low light, arrestin interacts with one active rhodopsin and with one inactive rhodopsin, whereas in bright light, arrestin interacts with two active rhodopsins.

"Although there were two fairly clear-cut theories regarding how arrestin binds rhodopsin, what was totally unexpected is that both can occur," the expert noted.

By understanding how arrestin interacts with receptors like rhodopsin under healthy conditions, she said the study may lead to researchers being better able to design drugs that avoid problems such as desensitisation.

Separate research carried out by experts at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in France recently claimed that brain imaging studies of blind people as they read words in Braille showed activity in exactly the same part of the brain that lights up when people with full vision read. 

by Emily Tait

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