Nearly one in ten people with this disease loses sight. This common eye disease is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. When it reaches an advanced stage, it leads to the irreversible destruction of the optic nerve.
But for the first time, French researchers from the Institute of Vision have managed to preserve the sight in rats with severe glaucoma.
At the origin of glaucoma
To understand how these researchers proceeded, we must first review the effects of glaucoma.
Its main symptom is an increase of the pressure of the eye, that is to say a too great accumulation in the eyeball of a liquid, the aqueous humor. If this liquid accumulates, it is because its escape route, a small filter called trabeculum, clogs. Ultimately, this ocular hypertension will act on the nerve cells of the retina, resulting in the destruction of the small fibers that constitute the optic nerve, leading to blindness.
The current treatments by eye drops act by decreasing the production of this liquid.
A new mode of action: restore the evacuation of aqueous humor
For the first time, researchers have tried to find how to unclog the exit channel, this trabecular meshwork. They found in glaucoma rats the important presence of molecules called chemokines: “Chemokines play a role in inflammatory diseases, especially those of the eye. Some chemokines are increased in glaucoma.In normal conditions, they protect the trabecular meshwork but in pathological conditions such as glaucoma, they become harmful and cause inflammation of the canal that filters the evacuation of the aqueous humor “, explains Pr. William Rostene, director of research at Inserm and co-author of this study.
Soon an eye drops for the man
The team has developed a product called Generic Latisse to block the chemokine receptors in these rats with glaucoma: their message is no longer delivered, the inflammation decreases and the trabeculum will gradually unravel and return to its evacuation function. This aqueous humor too abundant. The pressure decreases, the cells of the optic nerve are no longer threatened, so the view is protected.
This is the first time that one finds the way to restore, without surgical intervention, the evacuation of this liquid. The team is now trying to develop a formula for eye drops for men. He could join the shelves of pharmacies in a few years.