Doctor reveals progress in cure for eye disease

Doctor reveals progress in cure for eye disease

A Thai doctor has made what he calls great strides in research that could potentially lead to the development of a treatment for Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), a genetic condition characterised by loss of vision.

Assistant Professor Dr Chayanon Peerapittayamongkol said findings from his lab research could be groundbreaking in developing a cure for people with LHON, which is a maternally inherited mitochondrial disorder.

Currently, there is no treatment for the disease which affects the central vision needed for tasks such as reading.

Dr Chayanon said his research studies the effects of the anti-diabetic medication metformin on mitochondrial dysfunction in fibroblasts derived from people with LHON.

The findings show that metfor- min, a drug used to counter type-2 diabetes, can treat the disease. The research has been published in MethodsX, a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal.

Dr Chayanon said the findings are an exciting development for the medical community seeking a cure for the disease.

Metformin is found to improve mitochondria and is thought to contribute to the development of a drug to treat the disease or delay vision loss in people with LHON, he said.

LHON is caused by a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA and is more common in men than women.

Symptoms can begin in people as young as 10 and sufferers usually experience blurriness in one eye before symptoms worsen with the loss of vision in both eyes, Dr Chayanon said.

He said people who suspect they may have the disease can seek an examination at Siriraj Genomics Centre.

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