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QUB researcher discovers new way to fight sight-threatening diseases

  • A team of researchers at Queen's University Belfast has discovered a new way to fight a range of sight-damaging diseases by controlling blood vessel growth.

    Millions of people around the world live with diseases of the eye that will slowly make them lose sight and could make them blind. It's estimated that a third of the 285 million diabetic people in the world are at risk of a complication called diabetic retinopathy, for example, and many older people suffer from age-related macular degeneration.

    Many diseases that impair eyesight are caused by abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina, which can start to grow uncontrollably and damage the light-sensing cells. Treatment for these conditions involves inhibiting the growth of the blood vessels with a drug that blocks a molecule called "vascular endothelial growth factor," but this treament is only effective in about 50% of patients.

    A team of researchers at Queen's University led by Professor Tim Curtis has now discovered a new way to block this molecule and others that are thought to be involved in blood vessel growth. It's hoped that this new discovery will help researchers develop better treatments against retinal diseases, but the discovery could also help with other diseases.

    Some people who suffer heart attacks and other vascular problems go on to make full recoveries as their body grows new blood vessels to supply the area, while others don't. Conversely, benign tumours can often become dangerous and begin growing rapidly when they get a rich blood supply. Knowledge of how to control the body's signal to grow new blood vessels could help us fight both diseases more effectively.

    Source: Written based on press release

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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