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Researchers Identify Key Protein in Diabetic Retinopathy

Researchers found that inhibiting a certain protein reduced diabetic retinopathy, according to an article published October 23rd in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The protein was identified as ARF6 (reduced ADP-ribosylation factor 6), a protein involved in amplifying and maintaining levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

Wendy Zhu, assistant professor of Internal Medicine at University of Utah Health, explained, “What is exciting about this study is that we and our collaborators identified a compound (NAV-2729) that inhibits ARF6, which is crucial for the development of diabetic retinopathy.”

By inhibiting ARF6, blood vessel leakage and overgrowth of blood vessels in the retina were significantly reduced.

“ARF6 acts like a traffic cop at a busy intersection within a cell,” says Dean Li, vice president, Head of Translational Medicine at Merck & Co. and senior author on the paper. “ARF6 orchestrates multiple inflammatory signals that contribute to inflammation common in many diseases, including diabetic eye disease.”

Injections of ARF6 inhibitor were found to be more effective at reducing inflammation than anti-VEGF injections, the current standard of treatment, which is effective in only 40 percent of patients.

Shannon Odelberg, associate Professor of Internal Medicine at U of Utah, was hopeful that these results would have implications even beyond diabetic retinopathy, “We think these results are important because they identified a mechanism by which ARF6 controls VEGF receptor signaling and therefore may have much broader implications, extending to other diseases that involve VEGF receptor activation, such as cancer.”

More information: https://healthcare.utah.edu/publicaffairs/news/2017/10/diabetic-eye.php

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