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An eye drop that dissolves cataracts under development

July 24, 2015
by Megan Combs, Associate Editor
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Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed an eye drop that shrinks and eventually dissolves cataracts, according to Science Alert. The product, which is based on a naturally-occurring steroid called lanosterol, has yet to be tested on humans, but it would be the only treatment option available next to surgery.

Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to become increasingly cloudy, and if they're left untreated, they can cause blindness. Cataracts occur when the structure of the crystallin proteins that make up the lens of the eye deteriorate. The damaged proteins then clump and form the cloud on the lens of the eyeball. 

So far the drops have been tested on rabbits and dogs. Each trial saw an improvement in the cataracts to where they either shrank into almost nothing or dissolved.

"This is a really comprehensive and compelling paper — the strongest I’ve seen of its kind in a decade,” Jonathan King, a molecular biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is not affiliated with the study, but has been investigating cataract proteins since 2000. "They discovered the phenomena and then followed with all of the experiments that you should do — that’s as biologically relevant as you can get."

Read the full study publish in Nature here.

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