Researchers have discovered that a compound that can be found in red wine and grapes may also have the potential to treat eye diseases such as age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
A compound known as resveratrol, usually found at high levels in grape skin and at low levels in blueberries, peanuts and other plant-based foods, has long been known as an anti-cancer agent from previous studies. The said compound is produced by a variety of plants to fight off bacterial and fungal infections. Recent research conducted by researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that it can also inhibit the growth of blood vessels in the eye. This may prove to become a potential treatment for eye diseases associated with harmful blood vessel growth in the eye.
According to Dr. Rajendra S. Apte, MD PhD, retina specialist at Washington University and senior author of the said study, “A great deal of research has identified resveratrol as an anti-aging compound, and given our interest in age-related eye disease, we wanted to find out whether there was a link. There were reports on resveratrol’s effects on blood vessels in other parts of the body, but there was no evidence that it had any effects within the eye.”
The researchers tested resveratrol on mice that developed abnormal blood vessels in the retina after laser treatment. Mice who were given the plant-based compound showed lesser growth of abnormal blood vessels. Even abnormal blood vessels that already existed began to disappear.
The researchers have also identified the specific pathway from which the said compound may achieve this effect. They also found out that there may also be specific inhibitors that may reverse the ability of the compound to block blood vessel growth. This may also become a potential target for developing novel treatments for certain eye diseases.