JDRF bestows grant

August 10, 2011

A $495,000 grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) will help researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center further research an eye drop that one day could be used to prevent diabetic retinopathy (DR).

Memphis, TN-A $495,000 grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) will help researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center further research an eye drop that one day could be used to prevent diabetic retinopathy (DR).

Jena J. Steinle, PhD, an associate professor in the ophthalmology, anatomy, and neurobiology departments, will use the funds to examine how the formulation prevents cell damage in the retina in an effort to move the treatment from laboratory testing into the clinical trials phase. She will receive the grant money over 3 years.

“The JDRF grant is vital for continuing our work to translate a novel topical treatment for DR into clinical trials,” she said. “Our hope is that the drops will eventually be used in patients to reduce concerns about this problem.”

Dr. Steinle and her team have been examining animal models of retinal disease and observing that an insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP-3) can inhibit cell damage in the retina. For example, the scientists discovered that IGFBP-3 is significantly reduced in the retina of diabetic rodents with DR.

When diabetic rodents are treated with Compound 49b eye drops, however, the IGFBP-3 levels return to normal. This finding is associated with decreased cell damage in the retinal endothelial cells. Thus, the JDRF grant will assist the research team in proving that IGFBP-3 is a key factor in the ability of Compound 49b to prevent retinal cell damage.

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