Elevated blood sugar triggers an inflammatory process that causes Diabetic Retinopathy, a serious complication and major cause of blindness.
It is estimated that in the USA 3 million patients suffered from diabetic retinopathy in 2018 and is the leading cause for blindness among the working-age population.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs in both T1D and T2D patients in the age group of 20-60 years when patients should still have a many years left of working and social life.The first stage has often no symptoms or warnings and cause only mild vision problems. As the disease progresses diabetic retinopathy may include on both eyes:
- Fluctuated vision
- Blurred vison
- Impaired colour vision
- and vision loss
The disease develops because the increased blood glucose can lead to blockade of the eyes small blood vessels, i.e. preventing the blood supply to the tissue. The eye will then compensate for the missing blood supply by developing new blood vessels. But the new vessels don't develop properly and can leak a clear, jelly-like substance into the center of the eye causing loss of vision. Leakage from the new blood vessels may also cause a higher pressure in the eye and cause damages to the optic nerve.
Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed by comprehensive eye examinations of the blood vessels, eye pressure measurements and imaging of the eye using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). The exact underlaying cause for diabetic retinopathy is not established but increasing evidence points to inflammation as one of the key player in diabetes-associated retinopathy. Various inflammatory cytokines have been reported elevated in the ocular tissue, e.g. TNFa. SER130 is a small peptide that is an anti-inflammatory IL-4 receptor agonist. It mimics the response of endogenous human IL-4 and inhibits a cascade of pro-inflammatory responses (e.g. TNFa) to various inflammatory stimuli.
It is anticipated that SER130 could be developed as a new compound for treatment of diabetic retinopathy.