Researchers discover the role of protein which may prevent glaucoma
Researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Macquarie University, Australia, have discovered how a protein called neuroserpin, which plays a role in eye health, is inactivated in glaucoma. The results are published in Scientific Reports.
Neuroserpin’s role is to regulate the activity of plasmin, an enzyme which is involved in causing damage to the retina. The study revealed that neuroserpin was inactive in glaucoma, which leads to an increase in the damaging plasmin activity, which breaks down proteins in the retina in glaucoma.
Glaucoma is the second largest cause of blindness in the UK. It is caused by damage to the optic nerve, which is the nerve that connects your eyes to your brain. This damage usually occurs due to increased pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure. Without early detection, this damage can lead to sight loss and blindness, so it’s extremely important to have regular eye tests, as symptoms are not always present.
High intraocular pressure causes oxidation of neuroserpin, which results in the loss of its plasmin inhibitory activity, allowing plasmin to cause damage to neurons and nerve cells.
“The findings are expected to open up avenues to use plasmin specific inhibitors as a mechanism based strategy in Glaucoma treatment.” said Dr Vivek Gupta, the study’s lead author.
“Although further research is required, these exciting findings highlight a new area of research which could lead to more effective treatments for or even preventions of glaucoma.” said George McNamara, Fight for Sight’s Director of Research, Policy and Innovation.
Here at Fight for Sight, we are funding a number of research projects which aim to improve detection, prevention and treatment of glaucoma.