Diabetic retinopathy, vision loss due to diabetes, is the number one cause of diabetes for adults living in the developed world.
So many people are afflicted by the condition because there is no known cure, limited treatment options, and even the best prevention methods only provide minimal results.
For the first time ever, a new treatment procedure is being tested that can prevent, and in some cases even reverse the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Currently, the treatment is being tested on mice, and the promising results from those tests have been published in The American Journal of Pathology.
According to lead investigator Maria B. Grant, MD, of the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute of Indiana University, Indianapolis, "We are not aware of another study that has demonstrated a therapy capable of reversing this form of retinal pathology."
The experiment involved administering the new drug, referred to as AAV-ACE2, into two groups of mice. Both groups were also injected with streptozotocin, a drug that can artificially induce diabetes.
The difference between the two groups was that one was given AAV-ACE2 two weeks prior to being given streptozotocin, the second was treated six months after contracting diabetes, once retinopathy had started to develop. The results showed that both methods effectively decreased the number of proinflammatory cells in the diabetic retina.
There was even evidence to suggest that the development of diabetic retinopathy could be reversed.
Commenting on the findings, Dr. Grant said "These findings are very exciting because it is traditionally believed that this endpoint of vascular degeneration, acellular capillaries, represents an irreversible lesion."