Newly Discovered Natural Protein Could Lead To Approaches To Prevent And Treat Blindness

Scientists discovered a natural protein known as neuroserpin that could lead to new approaches to prevent and treat the eye disease glaucoma, which leads to blindness if not treated. They found that the protein has a significant role in retina health.

The findings of the study were printed in Scientific Reports. The research is led by Dr. Vivek Gupta, of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Macquarie University, and other colleagues, according to Medical News Today.

Neuroserpin is found to regulate enzymes and maintains a natural protective environment in the eye. It also blocks the activity of an enzyme known as plasmin and protects neurons against plasmin-induced damage. It belongs to a family of “serpins,” which are sensitive to oxidation in environmental factors like air pollution.

The team also found that neuroserpin disengaged once it reacted to oxidation stress. With this, it could no longer protect the eye, the retina, and optic nerve, which may lead to damage to the eye. The neuroserpin also disengaged because of aging.

Dr. Gupta said that in such a long period of time, the increased enzyme activity slowly digests the eye tissue and promotes cell death that triggers the harmful effects linked with glaucoma. This is a major blinding disorder among aged Australians, added Dr. Gupta. She concluded that this new research has opened a new line of investigation in glaucoma research that could lead to novel treatment for the said eye condition.

John Weis checked a glaucoma patient at a free health clinic in California.
Volunteer John Weis checked a glaucoma patient at a free health clinic in California. [Image by John Moore/Getty Images]

The research will help the scientists in studying and examining the mechanism of glaucoma. They will utilize the findings of this research to navigate the genetic engineering techniques to produce “modified neuroserpin” protein that is resistant to oxidation. In addition, they will make it sustainable in the eye to prevent enzymes from any damage and protect the eyesight, according to Medical Xpress.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. There are millions of people who are suffering from glaucoma. In the United States, more than 3 million people have glaucoma. Many of these people do not know they have this eye condition. This is because glaucoma causes no symptoms at first and the following loss of peripheral vision is not identified.

It is advisable that you consult an eye doctor right away if you have seen its symptoms. These include blurred vision, severe eye and head pain, sudden sight loss, nausea, or vomiting with severe eye pain and visibility of rainbow colors around bright lights.

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