Early stages of glaucoma could be treated with turmeric eye drops
A new study led by researchers at UCL and Imperial College London, reports that a derivative of turmeric could potentially be used in eye drops as a treatment for the early stages of glaucoma.
In the Scientific Reports paper, researchers report that curcumin, a compound extracted from turmeric, could potentially be formulated into an effective therapy for glaucoma.
Currently, regulating pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure) is the main therapeutic strategy for treating glaucoma. In the early stages of glaucoma there is a loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Researchers are focusing on ways of stopping this loss of RGCs.
Previously, curcumin taken orally has been shown to protect RGCs. However, its clinical use has been limited by poor solubility. Researchers have developed a novel nanocarrier, which can be used in eye drops to deliver much higher loads of curcumin directly to the eye instead of throughout the body.
Professor Francesca Cordeiro, a Fight for Sight Trustee, at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Imperial College London, who led the research, said:
“Curcumin is an exciting compound that has shown promise at detecting and treating the neurodegeneration implicated in numerous eye and brain conditions from glaucoma to Alzheimer’s disease, so being able to administer it easily in eye drops may end up helping millions of people.”
Researchers also believe it may be possible to use curcumin to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, as it is known to bind to the amyloid beta protein deposits which are associated with Alzheimer’s.
Professor Cordeiro added: “As we live longer, diseases such as glaucoma and Alzheimer’s are steadily increasing. We believe our findings could make a major contribution at helping the lives of people affected by these devastating diseases.”
This research was funded by the Medical Research Council and Dr. Werner Jackstädt-Stiftung.