Pictured: Lead author and Centenary Institute researcher, Dr Ka Ka Ting using Centenary’s state-of-the-art confocal microscope.
Scientists at the Centenary Institute have developed a novel drug which could potentially be used to effectively treat patients with diabetic retinopathy; the main cause of blindness from diabetes.
The key process involved in diabetic retinopathy pathology is the breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier (BRB), which is normally impermeable. Its integrity relies on how well capillary endothelial cells are bound together by tight junctions. If the junctions are loose or damaged, the blood vessels can leak.
In collaboration with researchers in Denmark, scientists at the Centenary Institute in Sydney have demonstrated in mouse models, how a novel drug, CD5-2, can mend the damaged blood retinal barrier and reduce vascular leakage.
“With limited treatment options currently available, it is critical we develop alternative strategies for the treatment of this outcome of diabetes,” says lead author Dr Ka Ka Ting from the Centenary Institute.
A novel drug is being touted as a major step forward in the battle against Australia’s escalating rates of obesity and associated metabolic diseases. As it stands, 2 in 3 adults in Australia are classified as being overweight or obese. A long-term study between researchers at the Centenary Institute and UNSW Sydney has led to the creation of a drug which targets an enzyme linked to insulin resistance – a key contributor of metabolic diseases, such as Type II diabetes.
“From here, I would like to develop drugs which target both the Ceramide Synthase 1 and 6 enzymes together, and see whether it produces a much stronger anti-obesity and insulin sensitising response. Although these drugs need more work before they are suitable for use in the clinic, our work so far has been a very important step in that direction,” says Centenary Institute’s Associate Professor Anthony Don.
Centenary PhD student Ameline Lim must also be recognised for her role in conducting a significant amount of the laboratory work and data analysis throughout the project, which formed the basis for her PhD thesis.