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Subspecialties Basic & Translational Research, Retina, Glaucoma

On the KUSp of Neuroprotective Medicine

Are we finally on the cusp of treating neurodegenerative ocular disease by neuroprotection? Currently, IOP is the only modifiable risk factor for glaucoma, but today’s treatments – despite their successes in reducing IOP – are not always effective, as many patients continue to experience gradual loss in vision (albeit at a less dramatic pace) with treatment. Whilst efforts in the glaucoma field have been focusing on neuroprotective treatments, so far these have been to little avail (1).

Enter Hanako Ikeda and her team at Kyoto University. Two years ago, they published research showing that their novel neuroprotectant compounds – termed Kyoto University Substances (KUSs) – prevented photoreceptor cell death and preserved visual function in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa (2). Now they have shown that KUSs can prevent glaucoma progression and loss of visual function in three different mouse models, through suppressing the loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and nerve fibers (3). But what exactly are KUSs and how do they work?

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