VEGF discovery may lead to prevention of PVR

May 30, 2012
Ophthalmology Times Staff Reports

In addition to angiogenesis, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) may have another function, according to scientists at the Schepens Eye Research Institute. The finding could lead to the prevention of the most common serious side effect of retinal re-attachment surgery.

Boston-In addition to angiogenesis, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) may have another function, according to scientists at the Schepens Eye Research Institute. The finding could lead to the prevention of the most common serious side effect of retinal re-attachment surgery.

VEGF unexpectedly seems to bind the receptor for platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and thus prevent PDGF from binding, according to the study conducted at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear subsidiary and Harvard Medical School affiliate. This discovery suggests that VEGF may contribute to the development of proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR).

The finding, published in the May issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology, is significant for two reasons, according to Andrius Kazlauskas, PhD, a Schepens senior scientist and principal investigator of the study: it may lead to the prevention of PVR through the development of targets for drugs, and it may lead to understanding other disorders in which the unusual relationship of growth factors might be occurring.

“This is particularly exciting because there already are safe and effective approaches to block VEGF, which have never been considered for PVR because they didn’t make sense without understanding the relationship among the vitreal growth factors that came to light in the course of this study,” Dr. Kazlauskas said.

About 10% of the 40,000 Americans who undergo retinal re-attachment surgery every year develop PVR.

“By measuring the level of VEGF in the vitreous before surgery, we may be able to predict the likelihood of PVR happening for a specific individual,” he added. “And, of course, the real hope is that anti-VEGF drugs or compounds might someday be able to prevent the disease altogether, eliminating the fear of this complication for patients.”

The next steps for the research team, according to Dr. Kazlauskas, will involve investigating the effects of anti-VEGF compounds to see whether they can prevent or arrest the development of PVR.

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