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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Protein 'essential for healthy retina' identified



Researchers have identified a protein which is essential for maintaining a healthy retina.
 
Protein S was found to maintain a healthy retina through its involvement in the process of ‘pruning’ photoreceptors, also known as phagocytosis. Without such pruning, photoreceptors would succumb to toxicity and degenerate, which, if left unchecked, can lead to blindness, according to Dr Tal Burstyn-Cohen (pictured), from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and colleagues.
 
In the study, which appears in the journal Neuron, Dr Burstyn-Cohen’s team performed experiments in laboratory animals and found that Protein S, along with another protein, Gas6, are needed to activate phagocytosis of retinal photoreceptors, therefore keeping the retina healthy.
 
Protein S may also have implications for understanding and possibly treating other conditions in the immune, reproductive, vascular and nervous systems, as well as in various cancers, the researchers believe.