A specialised virus has demonstrated its potential to both prevent and reverse diabetic retinopathy in early-stage research in mice.
The Indiana University research focuses on balancing the circulatory system as a way to treat the incurable disease.
The team gave diabetic mice a modified virus that boosts the levels of an enzyme in the body that regulates blood pressure and fluid volume.
The specialised virus was based on the adeno-associated virus, which is not known to cause disease and produces only a mild immune response.
The researchers first injected the virus into the vitreous of the eyes of the mice two weeks before the animals had diabetes induced, in the study published in The American Journal of Pathology.
The protective effect of the treatment method on the eyes was seen in this trial, as well as in a second when the mice were given the virus six months after the type 1 version of diabetes was induced, and the retinopathy was already established.
The team believes the early-stage results show this method has potential as a clinical treatment for diabetic retinopathy, and hypothesises that the viral treatment might show promise for vascular illnesses from stroke to kidney disease as well.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons / Armin Kubelbeck