Un producto químico restaura la visión en ratones ciegos

El nuevo producto AAQ podría hacer que las personas con ceguera degenerativa recuperasen la visión.

Un equipo de científicos de la Universidad de California, en Berkeley, en colaboración con investigadores de la Universidad de Munich, y la Universidad de Washington, ha descubierto un producto químico que restaura temporalmente la visión en ratones ciegos. Ahora, los investigadores están desarrollando un compuesto mejorado que podría permitir que las personas con ceguera degenerativa recuperen la visión. El estudio ha sido publicado en la revista Neuron.

Este nuevo enfoque podría ayudar a las personas con retinitis pigmentosa -una enfermedad genética, que es la forma hereditaria más común de ceguera- así como a los pacientes con degeneración macular relacionada con la edad -la causa más común de ceguera adquirida en el mundo desarrollado-. En ambas enfermedades, las células sensibles a la luz de la retina -conos y bastones- mueren, dejando a los ojos sin fotorreceptores funcionales.

El nuevo químico, llamado AAQ, actúa haciendo que las restantes células «ciegas» de la retina se vuelvan sensibles a la luz, según explica el investigador Richard Kramer, profesor de Biología Molecular y Celular en Berkeley. Según el experto, el AAQ es un »fotointerruptor» que se une a los canales iónicos de proteínas en la superficie de las células de la retina: cuando es activado por la luz, AAQ altera el flujo de iones a través de los canales, y activa estas neuronas.

Debido a que el efecto desaparece con el tiempo, puede ofrecer una alternativa más segura que otros enfoques experimentales para la restauración de la vista, tales como terapias con células madre, o con genes que cambian de forma permanente la retina. Además, el nuevo químico es menos invasivo que la implantación de chips sensibles a la luz, en el ojo.

«La ventaja de este enfoque es que se trata de un producto químico simple, lo que significa que se puede cambiar su dosis, utilizar en combinación con otras terapias, o interrumpir el tratamiento si no se consiguen los resultados deseados», añade Kramer.

«Estamos ante un gran avance en el campo de la restauración de la visión», afirma el coautor Russell Van Gelder, oftalmólogo y director del Departamento de Oftalmología de la Universidad de Washington, en Seattle.

Los ratones ciegos en el experimento padecían mutaciones genéticas que provocaban que sus conos y bastones muriesen pocos meses después del nacimiento. Después de inyectar cantidades muy pequeñas de AAQ en los ojos de estos ratones, Kramer y sus colaboradores confirmaron que habían restaurado su sensibilidad a la luz, ya que las pupilas de los animales se contraían ante la luz brillante.

Van Gelder concluye que «el nuevo enfoque ofrece una esperanza real a los pacientes con degeneración de la retina. Todavía tenemos que demostrar que estos compuestos son seguros y funcionan en las personas, pero los resultados demuestran que esta clase de compuestos restaura sensibilidad a la luz en las retinas ciegas debido a una enfermedad genética».

Fuente: europapress.es

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