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JDRF-funded researchers discover protein that causes blood vessel leakage and swelling in eyes

New York, NY January 29, 2007 -- The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the worlds leading charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research, announced today that JDRF-funded researchers have identified a group of proteins that may play critical roles in causing blood vessel leakage in the eyes of people with two forms of diabetic retinopathy.

These findings result from years of research conducted by Edward Feener, Ph.D., and his team of investigators at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, and are published in the Jan. 28, 2007, online edition of the journal Nature Medicine.

Over the years, Dr. Feener and his team have compiled the most complete inventory of proteins present in the vitreous the gel that fills the cavity between the lens and the retina. They also discovered that one of these molecules causes the leakage of retinal blood vessels, which contributes to the retinal swelling (or diabetic macular edema) often associated with advanced diabetic retinopathy. Their findings suggest potential new therapeutic targets for the treatment of proliferative diabetic retinopathy and macular edema, and could provide new opportunities for treating cerebral swelling caused by head injury, stroke and other conditions.

"Millions of people worldwide live with diabetic retinopathy and the accompanying threat of severe vision loss or blindness. While some treatment is available in the late stages of this condition, the incidence of proliferative diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema still pose the serious threat of sight loss. Dr. Feeners findings could provide new opportunities for the development of treatments for diabetes-related vision loss," said Dr. Helen Nickerson, Scientific Program Manager for Complications at JDRF.

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common complications of diabetes and is characterized by a range of abnormalities that develop from damage caused by high blood glucose levels. Proli
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Contact: Peter Cleary
pcleary@jdrf.org
212-479-7553
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
29-Jan-2007


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