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Small amounts of carbon monoxide may help protect vision in diabetes

November 4, 2021
Drs. Martin and Jadeja in the laboratory

Drs. Pam Martin and Ravirajsinh Jadeja. Image credit: Michael Holahan, Augusta University

An ingested liquid that ultimately delivers a small dose of carbon monoxide to the eye appears to target key factors that damage or destroy vision in both type 1 and 2 diabetes, scientists say.

The Medical College of Georgia scientists have early evidence that HBI-002, a low-dose oral compound developed by Hillhurst Biopharmaceuticals and already in early stage trials for sickle cell disease, can safely reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the retina, both early, major contributors to diabetic retinopathy.

Drs. Pam Martin and Ravisrajsinh Jadeja are co-principal investigators on a $300,000 grant (1R41EY033264-01) for the first phase of an R41/R42, Small Business Technology Transfer Grant that is enabling them to further explore HBI-002’s potential.

For the new studies, they are looking at the impact of the compound in both an acute ischemic model, when the retina suddenly is not getting sufficient oxygen because of oxidative stress followed by its normal companion inflammation, as well as a model of more natural disease progression.