New research may lead the way to drug treatment for cataract

Scientists hope their work exploring the role of aquaporin proteins could lead to drug-based therapies

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Pixabay/Michal Jarmoluk
Research exploring the role of aquaporin proteins in cataract formation could help to develop a drug-based treatment for cataract.

An international research project led by Professor Barbara Pierscionek of Anglia Ruskin University was presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual meeting in May.

The project team is the first in the world to measure how the optics in the eye lens develops.

The scientists found that a protein responsible for water passage in the lens, aquaporin, may disrupt optical development, leading to cataract formation.

Pierscionek highlighted that for many people surgery is inaccessible as a treatment for cataract.

“Our findings indicate the role of the aquaporin proteins and the crucial importance of this for the lens to work correctly and the eye to see clearly,” she said.

“Further research in this area is planned, but this discovery, together with our research on nanotechnologies that indicate drug therapy for cataract is possible, could potentially revolutionise the way cataract is treated, opening up the field for drug-based therapy rather than surgery,” Pierscionek observed.