Unlocking the Secrets of Eye Health Through Protein Research

by Anderson & Shaprio

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia have created an important new tool to help us better understand vision problems. After years of hard work, they have established a database filled with information about the proteins found in the fluid inside the eye.

Medical College of Georgia campus
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

This fluid, called the aqueous humor, plays a crucial role in keeping our eyes healthy. It delivers nutrients, removes waste, and provides oxygen to the parts of the eye that don’t have their own blood supply. The proteins present in this fluid are involved in all sorts of important processes, like how cells communicate with each other and how the immune system functions in the eye.

This image is a cross-sectional look at the eye. Aqueous Humor is located in the most external (anterior) chamber.

Changes in the protein makeup of the aqueous humor have been linked to many common vision problems that become more frequent as we age, such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic eye disease. But until now, researchers have had a hard time studying these proteins in detail.

The new database created by the Georgia team changes that. It contains information on over 1,600 different proteins that have been identified in 307 samples of aqueous humor fluid. It’s currently unknown how many proteins are made by our bodies in total, but researchers estimate approximately 20,000. Researchers can now use this data to better understand how specific proteins are involved in keeping our eyes healthy, and what goes wrong when we develop vision issues.

“This database is an important step in helping us figure out the root causes of many eye diseases,” explained Dr. Ashok Sharma, who led the research team. “The more we know about the proteins in the eye’s fluid, the closer we’ll get to finding new ways to prevent and treat vision problems.”

This diagram shows that genome mapping relates to DNA, which is read by RNA and is used to create proteins. The proteome is a mapping of proteins in the same way the genome is a mapping of genes.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The database is publicly available, so scientists around the world can access the information and build on this research. As more samples are analyzed, the database will continue to grow, providing an increasingly valuable resource for understanding and caring for our eyes as we get older.

Vision problems are extremely common, with over 2 billion people globally experiencing some form of vision impairment. But many of these issues could be avoided with better prevention and treatment. This new protein database is an exciting development that may help unlock the secrets to keeping our eyes healthy for years to come.

See the original publication here: https://academic.oup.com/database/article/doi/10.1093/database/baae001/7591174

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