New Research Finds Plants May Yield Treatments for Eye Diseases

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GUILDFORD, Surrey, U.K.—Mother Nature could have the answer to treating several causes of blindness, according to a new study involving scientists from the University of Surrey and the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute at Indiana University School of Medicine. The scientists have found and tested compounds from a group of plants that could possibly be used to treat the causes of degenerative eye diseases such as proliferative diabetic retinopathy and wet age-related macular degeneration. In a paper published by the American Chemical Society, the University of Surrey, together with experts from Indiana University and Kingston University, detailed their testing of naturally occurring homoisoflavonoids found in the Hyacinthaceae plant family and their synthetic derivatives.

The team tested how well these compounds were able to stop the growth of new blood vessels and isolated several active compounds. One synthetic derivative in particular could be used to develop future treatments. Further work is continuing to synthesize more related compounds.

“It goes without saying that losing your eyesight is a devastating experience. We believe that our results hint at possible future treatments for many degenerative eye conditions and it appears that nature still has many secrets to reveal,” said professor Dulcie Mulholland, head of department of chemistry at the University of Surrey.

Professor Tim Corson, director of basic and translational research at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute, added: “Existing therapies for these diseases must be injected into the eye, and do not work in all patients. Our findings are a first step towards therapies that might avoid these shortcomings.”