Rajendra Apte and Charles Pfeifer, Washington University in St. Louis, discovered a potential new treatment approach to diabetic retinopathy, one of the most common causes of vision loss in the U.S.
The researchers showed in a mouse model of diabetes that eye injections of a molecule called CD200Fc disrupts the activation of immune cells called microglia in the retina. Microglia, when confronted with high blood glucose levels, trigger a sequence of events that leads to inflammation and vision deterioration. The CD200Fc injections, however, prevented visual dysfunction and retinal inflammation in the mice.
According to the researchers, this groundbreaking discovery brings a new dimension to the management of diabetic retinopathy. Unlike traditional treatments that are often employed in the disease’s advanced stages, this innovative approach allows for early intervention. Acting upon this therapeutic pathway in the initial phases of diabetic retinopathy holds the potential to stave off the vision loss that typically plagues advanced cases.