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Potential drug targets for early onset glaucoma

Using a novel high-throughput screening process, scientists have for the first time identified molecules with the potential to block the accumulation of a toxic eye protein that can lead to early onset of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and cause vision loss and blindness. Elevated eye pressure is the main risk factor for optic nerve damage.

Researchers have implicated a mutant form of a protein called myocilin as a possible root cause of this increased eye pressure. Mutant myocilin is toxic to the cells in the part of the eye that regulates pressure. These genetically inherited mutants of myocilin clump together in the front of the eye, preventing fluid flow out of the eye, which then raises eye pressure. This cascade of events can lead to early onset-glaucoma, which affects several million people from childhood to age 35.

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