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Eye Drops with Sterols Could Reverse Cataracts

Research published on November 5 in the journal Science could lead to eye drops that restore transparency to lenses clouded by cataracts using a newly discovered chemical compound.

The American research team’s study began with 2,450 compounds and was eventually narrowed down to 32 chemicals based on lanosterol, which was shown to have cataract reversing properties, though lanosterol’s poor solubility required it to be injected directly into the lens.

One of these chemicals, referred to as “compound 29”, was settled on as the most likely candidate. Compound 29 was soluble enough to be delivered in eye drops, and was able to bind to the crystallins in the lens and break up the insoluble clumps of proteins causing clouding.

In vivo tests on mice showed that eye drops containing compound 29 restored transparency to lenses affected by cataracts, as did ex vivo tests on human lens tissue, though study lead Jason Gestwicki cautions that transparency measurements are not a direct measurement of visual acuity.

Viewpoint Therapeutics, founded by study co-author Leah Makley, is developing compound 29 for human use as a cataract treatment.

Further information: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2015/11/176886/eye-drops-could-clear-cataracts-using-newly-identified-chemical

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