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One step closer to a new retinopathy treatment

Project summary

Scientists have found a protein, called LRG1, plays a role in the early stages of eye damage in people with diabetes. Dr Giulia De Rossi wants to know how exactly this protein causes problems and if their new treatment that blocks it could help prevent eye damage. This could take us closer to better treatments that could be given earlier to protect the sight of people with diabetes. 

Background to research

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging blood vessels at the back of the eye.  

Retinopathy is a slow-progressing condition that can go unnoticed at early stages of development. Current treatments only work in the later stages of retinopathy, and don’t work well for everyone. So it’s vitally important to find new solutions and intervene earlier. 

A previous study funded by Diabetes UK has shown that a protein, LRG1, plays a role during the early stages of retinopathy. Dr Giulia De Rossi now wants to discover more about the role of LRG1 and if blocking it could help prevent eye damage.

Research aims

Dr Giulia De Rossi and her team will look at how LRG1 causes damage to blood vessels in the eye. They’ll do this by comparing mice which have LRG1 to mice that don’t make the protein. 

They’ll then study donated tissues from people with diabetes and retinopathy to reveal how the level of LRG1 changes as retinopathy progresses. This could provide valuable insights on when a potential treatment that targets LRG1 would be most effective to give. 

Finally, they’ll test an experimental new drug they’ve developed which blocks LRG1 in mice. They’ll use a specialised microscope that can detect small changes at the back of the eye to see if it can protect blood vessels. 

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Vision problems and sight loss are devastating for people with diabetes and current treatments don’t work early or well enough. Uncovering the role of LRG1 can give us a better understanding of how retinopathy develops at its early stages and how to stop it.

New treatments that prevent or slow eye damage as soon as it’s detected would transform how we tackle retinopathy and better protect people with diabetes from this serious complication. 

Next Review Date
Next review due
01 September 2027
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