New Therapeutic Target for Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy Discovered

News Brief

Angiogenesis or neovascularization are the terms used to describe the growth of new blood vessels. In some diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, angiogenesis is mistakenly activated and becomes a major pathologic feature. As these diseases progress, abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina. The resulting vessels are highly permeable and leak fluid and serum, damaging the light-sensitive photoreceptor cells in the retina. Neovascularization can cause severe and irreversible vision loss.

A recent NEI-supported study, published in the March 16, 2008 issue of Nature Medicine, reports on the discovery of a protein that stabilizes the existing vasculature and prevents neovascularization. Learn more about this study.