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New ’2-in-1′ test simplifies retina evaluations

New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that a newly developed test can measure how well both the blood vessels and the light-sensing cells (photoreceptors) of the retina are working

New research published in the February 2015 issue of The FASEB Journal details a test developed using mice that can help measure two important aspects of retinal health–the function of retinal blood vessels and light-detecting cells. This approach opens new possibilities for understanding the molecular changes that occur in retinal disease and for evaluating the benefits of treatment early in the course of disease.

“We believe these findings will enhance and speed decisions about treatment in patients with specific diseases of the eye,” said Bruce Berkowitz, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Anatomy/Cell Biology/Ophthalmology at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. “This, in turn, may slow the progression of such diseases and help save sight in patients.”

To make this advance, Berkowitz and colleagues used a new form of magnetic resonance imaging to take two pictures of the retina, one in the dark and one in the light. By comparing these two pictures, researchers were able to see that the front of the retina behaved differently from the back of the retina. This suggested that this different behavior to light and dark was due to changes in blood flow in the front of the retina and photoreceptor metabolism in the back of the retina. These results were confirmed by comparing normal mice to mice whose retina was genetically altered.

“The earlier we can see eye problems, the better, even for those with deteriorating conditions for which there is no known cure,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “This new technique permits doctors to see two aspects of normal vision in one image: blood flow and light perception. It’s a breakthrough that should help kids after a playground injury and the old with macular degeneration. That’s a two-in-one, at the very least.”


Details: Bruce A. Berkowitz, Jawan Gorgis, Ankit Patel, Faiza Baameur, Vsevolod V. Gurevich, Cheryl M. Craft, Vladimir J. Kefalov, and Robin Roberts. Development of an MRI biomarker sensitive to tetrameric visual arrestin 1 and its reduction via light-evoked translocation in vivo. FASEB J. February 2015 29:554-564; doi:10.1096/fj.14-254953

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology