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Angiogenesis or neovascularization are the terms used to describe the growth of new blood vessels. In some diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, angiogenesis is mistakenly activated and becomes a major pathologic feature. As these diseases progress, abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina. The resulting vessels are highly permeable and leak fluid and serum, damaging the light-sensitive photoreceptor cells in the retina. Neovascularization can cause severe and irreversible vision loss.
A recent NEI-supported study, published in the March 16, 2008 issue of Nature Medicine, reports on the discovery of a protein that stabilizes the existing vasculature and prevents neovascularization. Learn more about this study.