A New Approach For Treating Retinal Pathologies

by Aaron Gochman (’18)

Fig. 1: New research may lead to better treatments for retinal pathologies.

Though visual signaling and processing is detected in the eye, information must still make its way to the brain. Photoreceptors in the retina function as transducers of these signals. However, damage to photoreceptor cells can cause not only blindness but also several types of retinal diseases. Designing therapies that target photoreceptor cells has proven to be challenging given the many G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) that are active in ocular pathways.

A new study by a team of Chinese and American researchers has discovered a new way to target GPCRs in order to prevent retinal degeneration. By focusing on already-FDA-approved drugs that act on this pathway, the team was able to synergistically target three proteins at once.

This multi-scale approach, known as ‘systems pharmacology,’ may prove to be the most efficient therapeutic design for retinal pathologies. Systems pharmacology offers an intriguing way of attacking complex disorders, in the eye and beyond.



  1. Y. Chen et al., Synergistically acting agonists and antagonists of G protein–coupled receptors prevent photoreceptor cell degeneration. Science Signaling 9, ra74-ra74 (2016).



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