Safe for Stroke Patients to Continue Blood Thinners Before Minor Surgical Procedures

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Posted on 31st May 2013 by Pacific ClearVision Institute in Cataracts |General

Many patients who have experienced strokes or mini strokes take blood thinners such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin) to reduce the risk of blood clots that can cause strokes.

This can pose a dilemma when a patient needs to undergo a surgical procedure, because blood thinners can increase the risk of bleeding. But a new guideline from the American Academy of Neurology advises that it is likely safe to continue taking blood thinners before minor procedures such as dental procedures, cataract surgery or dermatologic procedures. The guideline is published in Neurology, the official scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“This guideline is expected to be useful to neurologists, primary care physicians, surgeons, dentists and other healthcare providers caring for these patients,” said Dr. Jose Biller, chair of the Department of Neurology of Loyola University Medical Center. Dr. Biller is one of nine co-authors of the guideline; three other authors also have Loyola ties.

The physicians evaluated evidence from 133 studies. Among their findings:

- There’s a high likelihood that taking aspirin or warfarin before dental procedures will not increase the bleeding risk.

- Aspirin is likely to not increase bleeding risk before such procedures as cataract surgery, dermatologic procedures, prostate biopsy and carpal tunnel syndrome surgery. Similarly, warfarin likely will not increase the bleeding risk in dermatologic procedures and invasive ocular anesthesia.

- Aspirin possibly does not increase bleeding risk for such procedures as retinal surgery and ultrasound-guided biopsy.

- Aspirin is likely to increase the bleeding risk in orthopaedic hip procedures.

The authors provide three hypothetical examples of how the guideline could be applied:

- A 65-year-old man who had a stroke a year ago is due for routine colonoscopy screening. Given that the patient may not need to have a polyp removed during the colonoscopy — and there’s only a 2 percent chance of bleeding even if a polyp is removed — his neurologist recommends he continue taking aspirin.

- A 70-year-old breast cancer patient who had a previous stroke is undergoing a mastectomy. There is little research on the bleeding risk of taking aspirin before such invasive procedures. So to be safe, the neurologist and patient decide to discontinue aspirin seven days before surgery, and restart it the day after surgery.

- A 60-year-old man who has had a stroke is undergoing cataract surgery. The neurologist reviews the guideline and finds the risks associated with warfarin during ophthalmologic procedures have not been established with sufficient precision. Nevertheless, the patient would rather face the risk of increased bleeding than risk another stroke. So the ophthalmologist, neurologist and patient decide to continue warfarin during the cataract surgery.

First author Dr. Melissa J. Armstrong began work on the guideline while she was a neurology resident at Loyola. She now is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Other guideline authors with Loyola ties are Dr. Jose Biller and Dr. Michael Schneck, professors in the Department of Neurology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and Dr. Rima Dafer, a former associate professor of Neurology at Loyola who now is at NorthShore University HealthSystem.

The guideline was developed with financial support from the American Academy of Neurology. None of the authors received reimbursement, honoraria or stipends for their participation in development of the guideline.

Optics: Statistics Light the Way

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Posted on 31st May 2013 by Pacific ClearVision Institute in General |Retina

A revelation of how photoreceptive cells in the eye distinguish between different light sources could pave the way for a novel class of optical devices.

Millions of years of evolution have molded our eyes into highly sensitive optical detectors, surpassing even many human-made devices. Now, Leonid Krivitsky and his co-workers at the A*STAR Data Storage Institute and the A*STAR Institute of Medical Biology, Singapore, have shown that the photoreceptor cells found in the retina are even sensitive to the statistical properties of light. This ability could be harnessed in ‘bioquantum’ interfaces, a novel class of optical devices that use biological systems to detect the quantum nature of light.

Light comprises discrete bundles of energy known as photons. A 40-Watt light bulb, for example, creates more than 1019 (a one followed by 19 zeros) visible photons every second. Nevertheless, attenuated sources that generate light pulses containing just a few photons are also useful. In such ultralow-intensity light pulses, the statistical distribution of photons emitted in a single pulse depends on the light source.

Warm light sources such as light-bulb filaments generate photons in bunches. Lasers, in contrast, create photons randomly — each is emitted independently of the next. Krivitsky and his co-workers experimentally demonstrated that rod photoreceptor cells in the eye can distinguish between pulses of light from either a laser or a thermal light based only on these differing distributions. “Showing that such cells can assess photon statistics provides hope for accessing the quantum properties of light using biodetectors,” says Krivitsky.

Krivitsky and his team trapped a photoreceptor cell from a frog on the end of a suction pipette. Then they fired green-light laser pulses at the cell through an optical fiber. The same device could also imitate a thermal light source when they placed a rotating disk of ground glass and an aperture into the beam path.

They observed that rhodopsin molecules in the cell absorbed the incoming photons, which generated an ion current. The researchers amplified and measured this current as the average number of photons in each light pulse increased. They noticed a much sharper increase in detected current for the laser light than the pseudothermal pulses. This is because, while the average photon number is the same, an individual pseudothermal pulse was more likely to have a low number of photons. The photon distribution of the laser pulses, on the other hand, was much narrower.

The two types of photon emitters investigated in these experiments are examples of ‘classical’ light sources. “The next step is to investigate quantum light, such as pulses with a fixed number of photons,” notes Krivitsky.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Data Storage Institute and the Institute of Medical Biology

‘Preferred Retinal Location’ May Aid Rehabilitation in Patients With Central Vision Loss

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Posted on 31st May 2013 by Pacific ClearVision Institute in General |Retina

Perceptual learning techniques may provide a useful new approach to rehabilitation in patients with central vision loss — taking advantage of visual plasticity that persists even in old age, according to a special article in the June issue of Optometry and Vision Science.

The paper by Susana T.L. Chung, OD, PhD, FAAO, 2012 recipient of the Glenn A. Fry Lecture Award, presents new research findings on plasticity of the visual system in older adults with central vision loss. Anthony Adams, OD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Optometry and Vision Science, comments: “This award-winning author explored whether the new ‘preferred retinal location’ (PRL) in these typically older patients adopted important properties of the original fovea and hence provide evidence that even the older brain’s visual cortex shows plasticity.”

Evidence of ‘Visual Plasticity’ in Central Vision Loss…

Patients with loss of vision in the central part of the visual field face major challenges for daily living. The most common cause is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is also the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Central vision loss results from destruction of the fovea — the central pit of the retina, where visual acuity is sharpest.

Patients with central vision loss have problems with tasks requiring detailed vision, such as reading and recognizing faces. Although magnification can help, “Alternative rehabilitation strategies need to be developed to improve the functional vision of people with central vision loss, which hopefully will lead to an improved quality of life,” Dr Chung writes.

One potentially useful approach is “perceptual learning” — improving various aspects of sensory function through repeated practice. Perceptual learning can improve vision in younger patients with amblyopia (“lazy eye”). It was previously thought that older patients, like those with AMD, no longer had enough visual plasticity to benefit from this approach.

Dr Chung’s research takes advantage of the fact that people with central vision loss often adopt another location in the macula — the so-called preferred retinal location — to perform visual tasks. She reports a series of experiments “demonstrate[ing] the presence of plasticity in the visual system after bilateral central vision loss, especially at and around the PRL.”

…May Lead to New Rehab Strategies in Central Vision Loss

These results show that “The visual system for these individuals is still plastic and can be modified through experiences,” Dr Chung writes. She tested this hypothesis in a preliminary study of six older adults with central vision loss. In these patients, perceptual learning techniques targeting the PRL led to an average 50 percent increase in reading speed.

However, perceptual learning can’t improve visual acuity — patients still needed large-print books or magnification to see print. In addition, they would likely need continued practice in order to retain the improvement in reading speed. Dr Chung concludes, “The presence of this experience-dependent plasticity offers us an exciting opportunity to adopt perceptual learning as an alternative rehabilitative strategy for improving visual functions for people with central vision loss.”

Fish Oil Doesn’t Seem to Help Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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Posted on 31st May 2013 by Pacific ClearVision Institute in General |Retina

A large-scale National Eye Institute study has shown fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids do not alter the progression of age-related macular degeneration, says a national team of researchers including David M. Brown, M.D., an retina specialist at The Methodist Hospital who ran Houston’s part of the study.

Another key finding of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2, or AREDS 2, is that lutein and zeaxanthin may be safer than beta-carotene in reducing risk of disease progression.

“If you look at all the analysis performed in the AREDS 2 study, it looks like lutein taken with zeaxanthin is at least as effective and may be better than beta-carotene,” Brown said. “If you also consider that beta-carotene was associated with increased lung cancer rates in all former smokers, I no longer recommend any formulations containing beta-carotene.”

Researchers saw a modest decrease in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) among those who took high amounts of zinc, but that result was not statistically significant.

“Millions of older Americans take nutritional supplements to protect their sight without clear guidance regarding benefit and risk,” said NEI director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. “This study clarifies the role of supplements in helping prevent advanced AMD, an incurable, common, and devastating disease that robs older people of their sight and independence.”

Like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin can be converted to vitamin A in humans and can collect at the retina, where they probably limit chemical damage caused by light. Lutein is found in foods like egg yolk and animal fat deposits. Zeaxanthin is found in some berries, corn, and paprika.

AREDS 2′s results agree with past studies that have shown an association between beta-carotene consumption and the development of lung cancer in current or former smokers. About half of AREDS 2 participants reported having been smokers at some point in their lives.

Macular degeneration is a disease in which retina damage causes a loss of visual acuity in the center of the eye, called the macula. AMD is a major cause of blindness in the elderly, and currently affects about 11 million Americans. National Eye Institute experts believe that number will double by 2050.

About 12 years ago, the National Eye Institute began funding studies to look at how diet and dietary supplements affect the progression of the disease. AREDS showed a 25 percent decreased risk of AMD when study participants took vitamin C, beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), vitamin E, zinc, and copper (called the AREDS Formulation).

The five-year AREDS 2, which began in 2006, was a national study of more than 4,200 people. It suggests fish oil supplements probably do not need to be added to the formulation, and that lutein with zeaxanthin might replace beta-carotene in the AREDS Formulation, since lutein is not associated with increased risk for lung cancer.

“The first AREDS study showed us that vitamins really make a difference in decreasing the complications of AMD,” Brown said. “Now with the AREDS 2, we have solid data on what to recommend to our patients. Based on the AREDS 2 data, I now recommend that my patients no longer take beta-carotene but look for a vitamin with 10 mg Lutein, 2 mg zeaxanthin, 80mg zinc, 2mg copper, 500mg vitamin C, and 400 IU vitamin E.”

AREDS 2 was chaired by Frederick L. Ferris III, M.D., director of the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications at NEI.

Gentle Touch and the Bionic Eye: Using Haptics to Improve Outcomes for People Given Visual Prosthetics

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Posted on 2nd May 2013 by Pacific ClearVision Institute in General |Retina

Normal vision is essentially a spatial sense that often relies upon touch and movement during and after development, there is often a correlation between how an object looks and how it feels. Moreover, as a child’s senses develop, there is cross-referencing between the various senses. Indeed, where the links between the senses are not made, there may be developmental problems or delays. This should be taken into consideration when training new users of visual prosthetics, artificial retinas, or bionic eyes, suggest researchers in Australia.

Writing in the International Journal of Autonomous and Adaptive Communications Systems, a team at Monash University explain that haptic devices, technologies that simulate the feel of an object should be used as early as possible in children fitted with visual prosthetics, and also for older congenitally blind and late-blind people. The haptic device can provide supplementary or redundant information that allows cross-referencing with the visual input from the prosthetic. This, George van Doorn and colleagues suggest will help train the brain more effectively to understand the electrical input it is receiving from the prosthetic.

The input to the brain from any of our senses is ultimately an electrochemical signal, no actual light, sounds, odor molecules or other stimuli enters the brain. During infancy, the brain learns to interpret these different signals. However, the brain can be retrained to “understand” inputs from seemingly odd places. For instance, researchers grafted an electronic retina, not dissimilar to a low-resolution digital camera, to a patient’s tongue and then helped the patient learn how to interpret patterns of light hitting the sensor, even though the electrical signals reach the brain from receptors in the tongue.

At the moment, artificial retinas are very low resolution, a small array of a few dozen pixels, whereas a digital camera might have millions of pixels in its sensor. One can imagine that during the next few years artificial retinas will become more sophisticated and their resolution will increase. The limiting factor is the ability of the brain to be retrained to understand the input from these devices. Van Doorn and colleagues Barry Richardson and Dianne Wuillemin, experts in virtual reality, bionics and tactile technologies are now investigating how a haptic device might help. They suggest that exploiting multisensory processes will allow cross-calibration of information from the environment as well as assisting in teaching recipients of visual prosthetics to filter out noise, just as the brains of sighted individuals are able to do when looking at an object or scene.

The concepts are not unrelated to the ability of Braille readers to “see” text and deaf people to “hear” sign language. There are, however, critical periods in development when the brain is most receptive and plastic. Even poor sensory information is better than none at all, the team explains, provided that the different inputs correlate — from a visual prosthetic and haptic device, for instance — all tell the same story about the world. “The inescapable conclusion is that, if the aim of a bionic eye, or equivalent, is to restore functional vision in the young or less young, then a visual prosthetic must operate in a multimodal context in which haptics will be a major player,” the researchers conclude.

One-Two Punch Could Be Key in Treating Blindness

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Posted on 2nd May 2013 by Pacific ClearVision Institute in General |Retina

Researchers have discovered that using two kinds of therapy in tandem may be a knockout combo against inherited disorders that cause blindness. While their study focused on man’s best friend, the treatment could help restore vision in people, too.

Published in the journal Molecular Therapy, the study builds on earlier work by Michigan State University veterinary ophthalmologist András Komáromy and colleagues. In 2010, they restored day vision in dogs suffering from achromatopsia, an inherited form of total color blindness, by replacing the mutant gene associated with the condition.

While that treatment was effective for most younger dogs, it didn’t work for canines older than 1 year. Komáromy began to wonder if the older dogs’ cones — the photoreceptor cells in the retina that process daylight and color — might be too worn out.

“Gene therapy only works if the nonfunctional cell that is primarily affected by the disease is not too degenerated,” he said. “That’s how we came up with the idea for this new study. How about if we selectively destroy the light-sensitive part of the cones and let it grow back before performing gene therapy? Then you’d have a younger, less degenerated cell that may be more responsive to therapy.”

So, Komáromy and colleagues recruited more dogs with achromatopsia between 1 and 3 years old. To test their theory, they again performed gene therapy but first gave some of the dogs a dose of a protein called CNTF, which the central nervous system produces to keep cells healthy. At a high enough dose, its effect on photoreceptors is a bit like pruning flowers: It partially destroys them, but allows for new growth.

“It was a long shot,” said Komáromy, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.

But it worked.

“We were just amazed at what we found,” he said. “All seven dogs that got the combination treatment responded, regardless of age.”

While achromatopsia is quite rare, Komáromy said it’s a good model disease for other disorders affecting the photoreceptors, conditions that constitute a major cause of incurable blindness in dogs and humans. Those disorders affect individuals of both species in much the same way, so the combination treatment’s promise isn’t just for Fido.

“Based on our results we are proposing a new concept of retinal therapy,” he said. “One treatment option alone might not be enough to reverse vision loss, but a combination therapy can maximize therapeutic success.”

The research was funded by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health and the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Florida and University of Miami also participated in the study.

Medical Researchers Implant Telescope for Macular Degeneration

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Posted on 2nd May 2013 by Pacific ClearVision Institute in General |Retina

Physicians at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center have become the first in Virginia to successfully implant a telescope in a patient’s eye to treat macular degeneration.

The telescope implant is designed to correct end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most advanced form of AMD and the leading cause of blindness in older Americans. Patients with end-stage AMD have a central blind spot. This vision loss makes it difficult or impossible to see faces, to read and to perform everyday activities such as watching television, preparing meals and self-care.

William H. Benson, M.D., a cornea specialist and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the VCU School of Medicine, performed the procedure.

“We are excited to provide this new surgical option to our advanced macular degeneration patients, who up until now have had limited options for improving vision,” Benson said. “Advanced macular degeneration is a devastating disease, which cannot be treated by any available drugs or surgical procedures. The telescope implant offers a new hope for patients with limited vision.”

Smaller than a pea, the telescope implant uses micro-optical technology to magnify images that would normally be seen in one’s “straight ahead” or central vision. The images are projected onto the healthy portion of the retina not affected by the disease, making it possible for patients to see or discern the central vision object of interest.

Cholesterol Buildup Links Atherosclerosis and Macular Degeneration

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Posted on 2nd May 2013 by Pacific ClearVision Institute in General |Retina

A new study raises the intriguing possibility that drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol may be effective against macular degeneration, a blinding eye disease.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in Americans over 50, shares a common link with atherosclerosis. Both problems have the same underlying defect: the inability to remove a buildup of fat and cholesterol.

The new study is published online in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Working in mice and in human cells, the researchers shed new light on how deposits of cholesterol contribute to macular degeneration and atherosclerosis and even blood vessel growth in some types of cancer.

Patients who have atherosclerosis often are prescribed medications to lower cholesterol and keep arteries clear. This study suggests that some of those same drugs could be evaluated in patients with macular degeneration.

“Based on our findings, we need to investigate whether vision loss caused by macular degeneration could be prevented with cholesterol-lowering eye drops or other medications that might prevent the buildup of lipids beneath the retina,” says senior investigator Rajendra S. Apte, MD, PhD.

The new research centers on macrophages, key immune cells that remove cholesterol and fats from tissues. In macular degeneration, the excessive buildup of cholesterol begins to occur as we age, and our macrophages begin to malfunction.

In the “dry” form of age-related macular degeneration, doctors examining the eye can see lipid deposits beneath the retina. As those deposits become larger and more numerous, they slowly begin to destroy the central part of the eye, interfering with the vision needed to read a book or drive a car.

As aging macrophages clear fewer fat deposits beneath the retina, the macrophage cells themselves can become bloated with cholesterol, creating an inflammatory process that leads to the formation of new blood vessels that can cause further damage. Those vessels characterize the later “wet” form of the disease.

“Ultimately, that inflammation creates a toxic mix of things that leads to new blood vessel growth,” Apte explains. “Most of the vision loss from ‘wet’ macular degeneration is the result of bleeding and scar-tissue formation related to abnormal vessel growth.”

As part of their research, the scientists identified a protein that macrophages need to clear fats and cholesterol. As mice and humans age, they make less of the protein, and macrophages become less effective at engulfing and removing fat and cholesterol.

Apte, the Paul A. Cibis Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and his team found that macrophages, from old mice and in patients with macular degeneration, have inadequate levels of the protein, called ABCA1, which transports cholesterol out of cells. As a result, the old macrophages accumulated high levels of cholesterol and couldn’t inhibit the growth of the damaging blood vessels that characterize the “wet” form of the disorder.

But when the researchers treated the macrophages with a substance that helped restore levels of ABCA1, the cells could remove cholesterol more effectively, and the development of new blood vessels was slowed.

“We were able to deliver the drug, called an LXR agonist, in eye drops,” says first author Abdoulaye Sene, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow in the Apte lab. “And we found that we could reverse the macular degeneration in the eye of an old mouse. That’s exciting because if we could use eye drops to deliver drugs that fight macular degeneration, we could focus therapy only on the eyes, and we likely could limit the side effects of drugs taken orally.”

Sene and Apte also say that since macrophages are important in atherosclerosis and in the formation of new blood vessels around certain types of cancerous tumors, the same pathway also might provide a target for more effective therapies for those diseases.

“We have shown that we can reverse the disease cascade in mice by improving macrophage function, either with eye drops or with systemic treatments,” Apte says. “Some of the therapies already being used to treat atherosclerosis target this same pathway, so we may be able to modify drugs that already are available and use them to deliver treatment to the eye.”

New View of Origins of Eye Diseases

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Posted on 2nd May 2013 by Pacific ClearVision Institute in General |Retina

Using new technology and new approaches, researchers at Lund University in Sweden hope to be able to explain why people suffer vision loss in eye diseases such as retinal detachment and glaucoma.

Research on diseases of the eye such as retinal detachment and glaucoma has until now focused on the biochemical process that takes place in the eye in connection with the diseases.

Fredrik Ghosh and Linnéa Taylor have concentrated instead on attempting to understand what happens on a biomechanical level in the diseases and have produced results that have drawn a lot of interest from experts.

“We have not previously understood the mechanisms behind glaucoma and retinal detachment, but we knew that these diseases had a strong mechanical component. Our findings could form an initial explanation as to why we develop these diseases,” said eye researchers Fredrik Ghosh and Linnéa Taylor.

Using new technology, the eye researchers at the Department of Clinical Sciences in Lund, in collaboration with researchers at the Department of Biology at Lund University, have developed a method to investigate the importance of the biomechanical environment within the central nervous system.

For their studies, they grow retinal tissue from adult pigs in a stretched state similar to the normal mechanical state present in the living eye. Compared with unstretched tissue, which in cultures dies after a few days when the retina’s mechanical balance is disturbed, studies can now be performed for up to ten days in retina with a well-preserved structure and significantly higher cell survival.

“This gives us new tools to understand in a more concrete manner how biomechanical factors in the central nervous system influence the health of cells when we are healthy and when we suffer from diseases. This will not only have major importance for our understanding of how diseases come about in the central nervous system, but also for future disease treatment,” said the researchers.

The central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and retinas, is a complicated organ, especially in terms of structure. The entire system is under the mechanical influence of fluid pressure, among other factors. The new data from the group in Lund indicates that when the biomechanical balance is disturbed, as happens in retinal detachment and glaucoma, the normal function of the retina is lost, resulting in serious sight impairment or blindness.

Gene Switch Steers Blood Supply to the Retina

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Posted on 2nd May 2013 by Pacific ClearVision Institute in General |Retina

Normal functioning of the eye depends on a proper supply of blood to the retina. Light entering the eye passes through the cornea, the lens, and the vitreous body before reaching the retina, where it stimulates the nerves. If the retina contains too few or too many blood vessels — i.e., if it is under- or oversupplied with blood — a number of severe, often blinding eye diseases can develop.

An international group of researchers led by Professor Alfred Nordheim at the University of Tübingen’s Interfaculty Institute for Cell Biology has found, using experiments on mice, that genes for blood vessel growth in the retina are “switched on” by a known factor — a protein called SRF. The scientists showed that by eliminating this factor, they could artificially induce a certain disease profile in newborn mice and a different one in adult mice. Their results, which are published now in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, offer important clues on the diseases afflicting human eyes and provide starting-points for the development of treatments for defective retinae and vitreous bodies.

Professor Alfred Nordheim’s team has been examining the serum response factor (SRF) and its various functions for several years. SRF regulates the function of many genes in the genome of mice and men — thereby setting in motion distinct growth processes for organs. Experimenting on mice in the laboratory, the Tübingen researchers have developed sophisticated mechanisms to influence the activity of SRF and its co-factors in distinct types of cells and at defined time points when the organism reaches a certain developmental stage.

In the current study, the researchers switched off SRF in the blood vessels of mouse embryos, as well as in newborn and adult mice. As a result, the blood vessels in the retinae of the newborns were not fully developed. Their eye problems were very similar to certain hereditary forms of a disease affecting the retina and vitreous body in the human eye (vitreoretinopathy and Norrie disease). Children affected by it often go blind at an early age. In mice of adult ages, however, switching off SRF had the opposite effect — too many new blood vessels were formed in the retina, oversupplying it with blood. Doctors have made corresponding observations in elderly patients with a certain form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease which increasingly damages the retina and leads to vision loss. It is characterized by dilated blood vessels and the formation of excess blood vessels.

“I expected that SRF would play a role in the development of the vessel system, because it generally works to ensure the formation of cellular protrusions and new branched cellular structures in many organs, for instance in the nervous system and the vascular system,” says Alfred Nordheim. But, he added, it was astonishing how closely the pathology of mice with switched-off SRF resembled that of human patients with particular eye diseases. “I think we have established a very good model with which we can investigate these diseases much more precisely,” Nordheim says. It represents an important step for research into possible treatments, he adds.

The study was carried out in collaboration with researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster (Prof. Adams), the Institute for Ophthalmic Research Tübingen (Prof. Seeliger), the Pathology Department at the Tübingen University Hospital (Prof. Wolburg) and the University of Texas, Dallas, USA (Prof. Olson).