A pre-existing drug used for treatment of alcoholism restored vision loss in mice caused due to age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is considered the leading cause of blindness all over the world. Now a group of scientists at the University of Rochester found a way to restore vision lost due to age-related macular degeneration and due to a rare genetic disease called retinitis pigmentosa (RP), in which cells in the retina are broken down and lost. The team used a drug disulfiram (Antabuse) that is used in treatment of alcoholism for treating vision loss in mice.
The new study also discovered a mechanism that plays a role degradation of vision that may help to develop new class of drug restoring the vision loss. The drug used in the study, disulfiram is an FDA approved drug used for treatment of alcoholism for a long time. The team conducted some tests on mice with almost complete blindness, in the final stage of degeneration that were not able identify images on computer screen. These mice were treated with the drug and after the treatment, the vision of these animals improved significantly, which indicated some vision restoration. The drug is already used in humans, which makes conducting clinical trial in patients with vision loss easy.
As the drug, disulfiram is known to cause harmful reaction to alcohol consumption and is used for hindering alcohol addiction in patients, the patients in clinical trial would need to discontinue drinking during the trial period. According to the scientists, this newly found approach of restoring the vision loss could help to develop new drugs with same working mechanism without the alcohol side effects. The team reportedly tested one experimental drug, the BMS 493 that gave same results in mice.