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Oral Drug Blocks Retinal Capillary Stiffening, Offering Hope for DR Prevention

Oral Drug Blocks Retinal Capillary Stiffening, Offering Hope for DR Prevention

November 23, 2023

Using atomic force microscopy, researchers at the Doheny Eye Institute, affiliated with UCLA, have uncovered a groundbreaking link between retinal capillary stiffening in diabetic mice and the development of retinopathy. Their study, recently published in Diabetes, utilized atomic force microscopy to reveal that retinal capillaries in diabetic mice undergo increased stiffness in the early stages.

The crucial finding of the study demonstrated that blocking this stiffening effectively inhibited capillary degeneration and alleviated the loss of contrast sensitivity. The identified culprit behind the rise in retinal capillary stiffness is the protein lysyl oxidase.

In a significant leap forward, the researchers administered an oral drug to diabetic mice, targeting and inactivating lysyl oxidase, successfully preventing capillary stiffening. Further investigation delved into the mechanism behind this phenomenon, exposing that stiffer capillaries become more adhesive and sensitive to toxic immune cells, leading to increased capillary cell death—a key factor in diabetic retinopathy (DR) development.

The Doheny Eye Institute underscores the potential of the oral drug in inhibiting retinopathy, offering a promising alternative to the current practice of repeated eye injections. This groundbreaking research introduces retinal capillary stiffness as a novel target for DR prevention strategies, paving the way for more effective and patient-friendly approaches to combat diabetic retinopathy.