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Mechanism that causes blindness in diabetics is discovered.

A researcher has discovered the process which causes retinal cells to die causing blindness in diabetic patients. It has long been known that high blood sugar levels from diabetes damage blood vessels in the eye. The new discovery isolates the siah-1 protein as being a key component in the vascular damage in the eyes which leads to diabetic retinopathy. The January 29th issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistryhas the details of the research. Previous studies showed that high sugar levels cause GAPDH, another protein, to build up in the nuclei of Muller cells which are located in the retina. What scientists didn't know was how the GAPDH was getting in the nuclei. The siah-1 protein delivers GAPDH into the nucleus of Muller cells. When GAPDH accumulates in the nuclei, the Muller cells die which leads to the vascular damage. While production of GAPDH cannot be regulated, it is hoped that scientists will be able to stop the production of siah-1. If there is no siah-1 to transport the GAPDH to the nuclei, then diabetic retinopathy would no longer occur. Andrea Schumann Staff Writer

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