By Adrian Galbreth
The condition proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR), which is the formation of scar tissue within the eye, is both serious and sight-threatening, and until now few treatments have been available for it with any large degree of success.
However, a new study has suggested that an effective therapy may soon be available for the condition, which is a common complication in patients recovering surgical repair of retinal detachment.
Research conducted by investigators at the Schepens Eye Research Institute, the Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, claims that a combination of reagents is the key to treating PVR.
According to the study, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Pathology, this cocktail can neutralise a relatively small subset of vitreal growth factors and cytokines.
Lead investigator Dr Andrius Kazlauskas, of the Schepens Eye Research Institute and the Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, explained that the specialists found that a combination of seven classes of growth factors and cytokines was essential for PVR to develop in an animal model of the disease.
"By neutralising them, we prevented PVR-relevant signalling, and inhibited contraction of collagen gels containing primary retinal pigment epithelial cells derived from a human PVR membrane," he explained.
"These findings suggest a potential therapeutic approach to reduce the incidence of PVR in patients undergoing surgery to repair a detached retina."
Although the outlook for patients is encouraging, the expert said it would be useful to test the effectiveness of the treatment on alternate models of retinal detachment, while it is also worth considering a combinatorial approach to therapy.
"A combined therapy involving the neutralisation approach presented here with NAC treatment would doubly-target PVR at the extracellular and intracellular levels," Dr Kazlauskas explained.
by Emily Tait