Experts in the US have identified a compound that they believe could interrupt the chain of events that causes damage to the retinas of patients with diabetic retinopathy.
According to the specialists behind the discovery, the finding is a significant one because it could lead to a novel therapy that targets two mechanisms at the root of the disease - inflammation and the weakening of the blood barrier that protects the retina itself.
Researchers identified a specific protein common to both pathways as an important target in regulating the disease process, in which blood vessels become leaky.
According to Dr David Antonetti, professor of the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences and molecular and integrative physiology, it provides a drug that may be developed into a therapeutic intervention for patients in which anti-VEGF treatment alone is not sufficient.
"Our research is in the early stages of development. We still have a long way to go to demonstrate effectiveness of this compound in humans to create a new therapy but the results are very promising," he added.