Joslin-chaired study shows new compound may decrease vision loss in diabetes

nducted at Joslin Diabetes Center, medical centers across the United States as well as in Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and United Kingdom.

The oral treatment RBX inhibits, or blocks, the activity of an enzyme called protein kinase C. PKC is essential to the normal production of energy in the body, but a specific form of the enzyme -- PKC-beta -- has been linked to diabetic complications of the eye and other parts of the body. Thus RBX was designed to be selective for the single PKC-beta isoform, a fact that contributes to the inhibitor's excellent safety profile, according to the researchers.

"Our results demonstrate that although RBX did not prevent progression to proliferative diabetic retinopathy, it may reduce the risk of moderate vision loss caused by macular edema," said study chairman Lloyd Paul Aiello, M.D., Ph.D., Head of Joslin's Section on Eye Research, Director of Joslin's Beetham Eye Institute and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. "If these findings hold true in a currently ongoing larger clinical trial, then RBX may eventually offer a new treatment option for patients with diabetes, especially in light of the lack of serious side effects reported to date." Other members of the writing committee and study executive committee included Matthew D. Davis, M.D., of Madison, WI; Roy C. Milton, M.D., of Rockville, MD; and Matthew J. Sheetz, M.D., Ph.D., Vipin Arora, and Louis Vignati, M.D., of Indianapolis, IN.

"Joslin has a long history of PKC research which has made significant contributions toward the work which ultimately made evaluation of this inhibitor possible," said Dr. Aiello. Indeed, the laboratory of George L. King, M.D., Joslin's Director of Research and Head of the Section on Vascular Cell Biology, has studied PKC for two decades and was the first to hypothesize that activation of PKC -- especially the beta isoform -- is the major signaling pathway stimulated by hyperglycemia (high blo


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