Researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), US, have found that vitamin B3, when added to drinking water, is effective at preventing glaucoma.
The research was carried out by a team led by professor and Howard Hughes medical investigator Simon John.
Glaucoma is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases and affects an estimated 80 million people worldwide.
Patients with the disease experience dangerously high pressure inside the eye or intraocular pressure, which leads to the progressive dysfunction, as well as loss of retinal ganglion cells.
By administering the vitamin, the majority of age-related molecular changes were eliminated, providing a protection against glaucoma.
John said: “We wanted to identify key age-related susceptibility factors that change with age in the eye, and that therefore increase vulnerability to disease and in particular neuronal disease.”
New interventions can be developed to protect from common age-related disease processes in many people by understanding general age-related mechanism, the research noted.
By conducting various genomic, metabolic, neurobiological and other tests in mice susceptible to inherited glaucoma, compared to control mice, the researchers found that NAD molecule declines with age.
As part of the research, it was also found that a single gene-therapy application of Nmnat prevented glaucoma from developing in this mouse model.
John said that the team will begin the process of testing the effectiveness of vitamin B3 treatment in glaucoma patients after pursuing clinical partnerships.
Vittorio Porciatti of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and the late Nobel Laureate Oliver Smithies of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill joined the John lab.
Image: Howard Hughes medical investigator Simon John. Photo: ©2017 THE JACKSON LABORATORY