Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Cataract Counteract
28 October 2015

Cataract Counteract

Slicing through this mouse’s eye reveals onion-like layers of curvy fibre cells. Lens fibres mature as the eye develops and move towards the centre of the lens, losing their nuclei (the round purple blobs) and filling up with crystallin proteins (coloured pink here). Crystallin proteins are essential to mouse and human sight, but they can also do damage. Changes in the eye as we age often allow cloudy clumps of crystallin to form leading to cataracts, the main cause of vision impairment worldwide. Looking into the eyes of hereditary cataracts sufferers, researchers found an enzyme called lanosterol synthase was missing, a major clue to its role in preventing the condition. They found lanosterol is able to disperse crystallin clumps and fend off the cataract, raising hopes of future chemical treatments without the need for eye-watering surgery.

Written by John Ankers

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