A potential molecular mechanism that may hold the key to understanding how pressure is regulated in the eye has been identified by scientists in the University of Arizona, Tucson. The research could help to develop future treatments for glaucoma and other diseases.
Glaucoma is an incurable disease caused by improper drainage of the aqueous humor, the fluid that nourishes the eye. The imbalance of fluid inflow and outflow elevates intraocular pressure, eventually damaging the optic nerve and causing progressive vision loss.
Current treatments focus on lowering eye pressure with eyedrops and oral medications. However, these drugs lose their effectiveness over time. More than 3,000,000 Americans suffer from glaucoma, the second-leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
In response to this major health issue, Nicholas Delamere, professor and head of the Department of Physiology, and his research team have discovered a specific mechanosensitive ion channel, TRPV4, which they believe senses and helps regulate pressure inside the eye. Mechanosensitive channels are proteins found in most cell membranes that open a conductance pore in response to mechanical stress.
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