A team of researchers from the United States and Switzerland has made a major breakthrough in the development of new treatments for some forms of blindness and visions disorders by finding how a series of chemical reactions react to allow human vision.
Scientists have known for a couple of centuries that vision starts with a series of chemical reactions, but the exact process has remained a mystery. Now that mystery may have been solved.
According to a report published recently by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the research team has captured this chemical communication for future study and is confident it will lead to new treatments for blindness and vision disorders.According to FASEB, the crux of the discovery is the signalling of rhodopsin to transducin. Rhodopsin is a pigment in the eye that helps detect light. Transducin is a protein (sometimes called GPCR) which ultimately signals the brain that light is present. The researchers were able to ‘freeze frame’ the chemical communication between rhodopsin and transducin to study how this takes place and what goes wrong at the molecular level in certain disorders.
“The results may have important implications for discovery and development of more specific medicines to treat GPCR-linked dysfunction and disease. Examples of health problems involving GPCR dysfunction include blindness, diabetes, allergies, depression, cardiovascular defects and some forms of cancer,” says Krzysztof Palczewski, a senior scientist involved in the research,
To make their discovery, scientists isolated rhodopsin/transducin directly from bovine retinas. These membranes were suspended in solution and exposed to light to start the chemical signaling process. After light exposure, any contaminating proteins were removed, and the remaining rhodopsin and transducin locked in their chemical communication were removed using a centrifuge.