Lanosterol reverses protein aggregation in cataracts

Journal: Nature

Published: 2015-07-22

DOI: 10.1038/nature14650

Affiliations: 18

Authors: 43

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Research Highlight

Reversing cataracts with eye drops

© Ivan Gobbato/EyeEm/Getty

© Ivan Gobbato/EyeEm/Getty

Cataract sufferers may soon be able to replace costly and dangerous surgery with eye drops to restore their sight, an international research team has found.

Cataracts are caused by a build-up of protein on the lens, turning it opaque. Currently, the only treatment is surgery, which is not readily available in developing countries. This lack of access had led to cataracts becoming the most common cause of blindness worldwide.

In a study published in Nature, a team including researchers from Sichuan University, found that children born with cataracts were unable to produce lanosterol, a steroid naturally occurring in the lens, which is responsible for breaking protein clumps apart.

In the lab, the team found that treatment with a lanosterol solution broke apart the protein clumps and increased lens transparency. By administering lanosterol eye drops in vivo to dogs the team were able to successfully reduce the size and severity of cataracts.

The team believes their study “points to a novel strategy for cataract prevention and treatment.”

Supported content

  1. Nature 523, 607–611 (2015). doi: 10.1038/nature14650
Institutions Share
Shiley Eye Institute, UC San Diego, United States of America (USA) 0.19
Institute of Engineering in Medicine (IEM), UC San Diego, United States of America (USA) 0.19
West China School of Medicine/West China Hospital of Sichuan University (WCSM/WCH), SCU, China 0.11
BGI-China, China 0.09
State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, SYSU, China 0.07
State Key Laboratory of Membrane Biology (LMB), Tsinghua, China 0.07
School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua, China 0.07
College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS), UCR, United States of America (USA) 0.05
Guangzhou Kang Rui Biological Pharmaceutical Technology Company Ltd., China 0.03
King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital (KKESH), Saudi Arabia 0.02
Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SSPPS), UC San Diego, United States of America (USA) 0.02
Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego, United States of America (USA) 0.02
Shanghai General Hospital, SJTU, China 0.02
Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (SJTUSM), China 0.02
CapitalBio Genomics Co., Ltd., China 0.01
Xijing Hospital, China 0.01
VA San Diego Healthcare System, United States of America (USA) 0
Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM), PKU, China 0