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Meet the Molecule That Just Cured Cataracts

Mon, Oct. 31, 2016 Posted: 11:28 PM

If you learned that a molecule originally isolated in sheep’s wool could reduce and even eliminate cataracts in dogs, would you consider that therapy for yourself? It’s a question you might be answering very soon. Scientific research and testing indicate that the molecule, lanosterol, may play a vital role in addressing the cause of one of the world’s most common vision impairments.

Today, A Global Challenge
Cataracts are responsible for 50 percent of all blindness globally reflecting the growth of our aging population world-wide. Currently, the only effective treatments involve either scalpel or laser surgery and replacement of the eye lens. Once the crystallin protein in healthy eyes begins to age and break down, it becomes the obstructive cataracts that impair vision and can lead to blindness.

In 2015, a University of California research team followed up on case studies indicating the potential of lanosterol as an effective treatment for cataracts. Their remarkable efforts made headlines across the scientific community. The UC San Diego team reached its conclusions after a series of three experimental trials. The results were impressive and even dissolved cataracts in dogs.

1. Working with tissue samples taken from human eye lenses affected by cataracts, a lanosterol solution produced significant shrinkage of damaging crystallin protein.

2. After six days of treatment with the molecular solution, 11 rabbits in a control group of 13 affected by cataracts showed substantial improvement.

3. Over a six week period, a combination of lanosterol drops and injections treated cataracts in dogs as part of a controlled experiment with the same positive results reported in both the human tissue and rabbit studies.

Tomorrow, a Bright Future
Lanosterol as a cataract treatment may very well be that revolutionary therapy that cures our pets today and saves our sight tomorrow. However, every cutting-edge breakthrough in medicine comes with a dose of caution. Cataracts are complex, their development involves many variables, and their long-term response to lanosterol is yet to be determined.

Currently, treating our human eyes for cataracts with therapies that include lanosterol aren’t available. That will have to wait for approval from the FDA. Still, the doors are wide open on the promise of this single molecule and so are the scientific minds that recognize its potential. What looks so bright today may well shine unprecedented light into the future of our vision worldwide.

Lynn Joesph