Asthma Medication May Help Treat Diabetic Retinopathy

Posted in Diabetes Research News

A common complication associated with diabetes (T1D) is diabetic retinopathy. Poor blood sugar control can increase risk of this disease because it impacts the blood flow to the eye by blocking and damaging tiny blood vessels. It can eventually lead to blindness. Symptoms can be very mild and barely noticeable at first, so this is often a condition that is treated in later stages when the effects become more severe.

However, a recent study found that the administration of an FDA-approved asthma medication – montelukast, also known as Singulair – may help reduce damage to blood vessels and nerves in and around the eye. This indication has only been tested in mouse models so far, but because it is already an FDA-approved medication for use in children and adolescents, this may decrease the time it takes to shift into human clinical trials.

Researchers found that the medication suppresses inflammation enough to alter the signaling of inflammatory molecules and prevent pathology, but not enough to compromise the body’s innate immunity. If found effective in human trials, it could be used as a prevention method as well as to treat diabetic retinopathy in its early stages. This could be beneficial to children who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and even those who have been managing the disease for several years and are at risk for eye disease.

Though not involved with this study, the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is interested to see how it progresses and what findings show when used in human subjects. It is encouraging to see a potential new option for reducing risk of diabetic retinopathy and improving quality of life for individuals living with type 1 diabetes.

DRC supports early career scientists in pursuing novel, peer-reviewed research studies aimed at prevention, treatment, and an eventual cure for type 1 diabetes. To learn more about current projects and how to help, visit http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.