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Single chemical treatment for retinal degeneration proves successful

A single chemical treatment for retinal degeneration has been proven successful in mouse models by Dr. Richard Kramer of the University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues as reported in the Feb. 19, 2014, edition of the journal Neuron.

Diagram showing retinal layers. The area labeled "Ganglionic layer" contains retinal ganglion cells.
Diagram showing retinal layers. The area labeled "Ganglionic layer" contains retinal ganglion cells.This faithful reproduction of a lithograph plate from Gray's Anatomy is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

The researchers demonstrated that a single dose of DENAQ restored light sensitivity to the areas of the retina that had lost all rods and cones without interfering with the normal function of retinal regions that still had rods and cones that were functional. The single dose conferred sensitivity for as long as 15 days in mice that were bred to be blind.

DENAQ functions by increasing the level of impulses transmitted through the retinal ganglion cells. Retinal ganglion cells remain functional even when the rods and cones that normally transmit light to these cells have ceased to function.

Light in the normal range of visible wavelengths causes DENAQ to change isomeric structure and stimulate retinal ganglion cells in as little as a microsecond.

DENAQ was tested and proven to produce no cell death in healthy retinal cells. DENAQ did not interfere with the function of healthy rods and cones.

The researchers propose using DENAQ as a single dose or weekly treatment for people that have macular degeneration.