Clearing the Path
Is treating cataracts without surgery a reasonable vision of the future?
Jed Boye | | News
We all know that life has its inevitabilities (try not to think of death and taxes), but does surgical intervention in cataract treatment need to be one of them? Researchers have recently been exploring the effects of topically administered oxysterol compounds on the optics of the lens. Oxysterol compounds have previously been found to interact with proteins essential for lens transparency, and as a result have been touted as potential anti-cataracts drugs.
As Barbara Pierscionek, Deputy Dean of Research and Innovation a the Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK, and leader of the international group of scientists conducting the study, explains, “The structural effect of oxysterol compounds on the lens have been examined in the past, but their effect on the functional aspects, the optics, which are critical to vision, have not been considered.” In this pioneering study, the researchers observed that treating a murine model of cataracts with the oxysterol compound VP1-001 resulted in an improvement in refractive index profiles in the majority of lenses and a reduction in the lens opacity in nearly half of all cases (1).
Yes, the results have only been shown in mice, but there’s no denying the hope – even promise – of a simpler, less invasive alternative to surgery. And Pierscionek and her team will continue to pursue that very goal. “We will continue to investigate VP1-001 and other compounds to determine which are the most effective for treating the different forms of cataracts,” she says. “I would like to see [our work] improve the treatments offered for cataracts globally and, in particular, those offered in developing countries, helping those who lack access to current surgery or care.”
- K Wang et al., Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci., 63, 15 (2022), PMID: 35575904.