Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Leaky Pipes

Insight into better treatment for leaky blood vessels in the eye at the root of vision problems

17 June 2020

Leaky Pipes

Leaky pipes, in your home or body, can be disastrous. Leaky blood vessels are a major factor causing blindness, increasingly-common in ageing populations and with rising diabetes rates. In both diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, new blood vessels grow, but they tend to leak, depriving the eyes of essential oxygen and flooding them with unfiltered substances. Current treatments block the action of VEGF, a molecule that prompts this new blood vessel formation, but in doing so also damage existing blood vessels, causing even more harm. A new study used fluorescent markers to highlight any leaks (magenta) in and around the blood vessels (green) of damaged mouse eyes. Mice with particular genetic mutations related to VEGF were still able to form new vessels, but did not show leakage. The next question is whether a drug can be developed to achieve the same effect, and provide a welcome sight for patients.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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