Macular degeneration is an eye disorder that can gradually destroy a person’s sharp, central vision. Those changes make it hard to read and see fine details. It is a disease that is more common in people over the age of 60. a team now biomedical research In America have identified one The protein opened up the possibility of developing more treatments.
Research led by Dr. Francesca Marasi, Professor at the Sanford Burnham Prebys, an institution founded 45 years ago in the United States. His work seeks to help unravel the molecular mysteries of macular degeneration, which causes approximately 90% of age-related vision loss.
The Marasi team’s study was recently published in the journal biophysical journal, they got Describe the flexible structure of a key blood protein implicated in macular degeneration and other diseases. age related, such as Alzheimer’s and atherosclerosis.
“Blood proteins are under constant and changing pressure, because of the different ways blood flows through the body,” said Dr. Marasi. “For example, blood flows more slowly through the small blood vessels in the eye than the large arteries that surround the heart. Blood proteins must be able to respond to these changes, and this study provides us with a fundamental truth.” how they adapt to their environment, which is the key to targeting those proteins for future treatments.”
Our blood contains hundreds of proteins, but the researchers focused on one of the most abundant, vitronectin. In addition to circulating in high concentrations in the blood, vitronectin is found in the scaffolding between cells. It is also an important component of cholesterol. In addition, it is a key element in many age-related diseases. However, the most promising target for Marasi’s team is macular degeneration, which affects 11 million people in America. This figure is expected to double by 2050.
“This protein is an important target for macular degeneration because it accumulates in the back of the eye. Causes vision loss. Similar deposits appear in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease and in the arteries in atherosclerosis,” Marcy said. “We want to understand why this is happening and use this knowledge to develop new treatments,” said Marcy. They said.
To address this question, researchers were interested in how proteins change their structure at different temperatures and at different pressure levels, similar to what happens in the human body.
“Determining the structure of a protein is the most important part of determining its function,” explained Marcy. Through detailed biochemical analysisThe researchers found that the protein could subtly change its shape under pressure. These changes make calcium ions in the blood bind more easily. And researchers suggest that it leads to the buildup of calcified plaque deposits characteristic of macular degeneration and other age-related diseases.
“It’s a very subtle modification of the molecular structure, but it has a huge impact on the function of the protein,” Marcy said. “How much let’s know more Proteins at the structural and mechanical level, More likely we will target it successfully with therapies,” he said.
This structural knowledge will accelerate the development of treatments for macular degeneration, because Will enable researchers and their colleagues in the biotech industry to design custom antibodies that selectively block calcium binding to proteins Without changing its other important functions in the human body.
“It will take some time to make it into a clinical treatment, but we expect an antibody that will serve as a potential treatment within a few years,” Marasi said. “And since this protein is so abundant in the blood, this new knowledge may have other interesting applications that we don’t know about yet,” he said.
nowadays It is known that there are factors that can increase the risk of developing macular degeneration disorder: If you eat a diet high in saturated fat (found in foods like meat, butter and cheese), are overweight, use tobacco, be over 50, have high blood pressure and heart disease.
The most common symptoms of macular degeneration may be visual distortions, such as straight lines that appear bent.Reduced central vision in one or both eyes, need for bright light to read or perform detailed tasks, increased difficulty adjusting to low light levels, such as when entering a dimly lit restaurant, blurred vision of printed words Having, a decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors, difficulty recognizing faces, and a well-defined blurred or blind spot in the field of vision.