Dry eye disease can alter how the cornea heals, according to researchers studying the condition in mice. They’ve also found some potential treatments.
“We have drugs, but they only work well in about 10% to 15% of patients,” said Dr. Rajendra Apte, senior researcher and professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “In this study involving genes that are key to eye health, we identified potential treatment targets that appear different in dry eyes than in healthy eyes.”
Tens of millions of people worldwide, including 15 million in the United States, suffer from eye pain and blurred vision as a result of complications and injury caused by dry eye disease, according to Apte in a university news release.
“By targeting these proteins, we may be able to treat or even prevent these injuries more successfully,” he said.
The eye cannot provide adequate lubrication with natural tears in dry eye disease. Different types of drops can help replace them, but when the eyes are dry, the cornea is more vulnerable to injury.
The researchers discovered that proteins produced by stem cells that regenerate the cornea could be new therapeutic and preventative targets.
The researchers examined genes expressed by the cornea in several mouse models to investigate this. They investigated dry eye disease, diabetes, and other ailments.
The cornea activated a gene called SPARC in mice with dry eyes. Higher levels of the SPARC protein were linked to improved healing.
“We used single-cell RNA sequencing to identify genes important for corneal health, and we believe that a few of them, particularly SPARC, could be potential therapeutic targets for treating dry eye disease and corneal injury,” said first author Joseph Lin, an MD/PhD student in Apte’s lab.
“These stem cells are important and resilient, and they are one of the main reasons corneal transplantation works so well,” Apte explained. “If the proteins we’ve identified don’t work as therapies to activate these cells in people with dry eye syndrome, we may be able to transplant engineered limbal stem cells to prevent corneal injury in dry eye patients.”
However, animal research frequently yields different results in humans.
The findings were published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on January 2nd.
Join Our Whatsapp Group Job Alerts Here
Join Our Whatsapp Group News Alerts Here
Join Our Telegram News Alert Channel Here
Need a professional Website or Graphic designer for your business at affordable rates, Whatsapp us via Lemon Premium