Cataracts are the most common eye ailment in humans. However, the exact processes leading to this condition are not fully understood.
A team of researchers headed by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now discovered that the composition of the protein solution plays a decisive role. Their conclusions are contrary to prevailing opinion in the field.
The cells in the lens consist of a highly concentrated protein solution that is normally clear.
When the balance of the proteins in the lens is destroyed, they clump together and the lens becomes cloudy."
Johannes Buchner, Professor, Chair of Biotechnology, Technical University Munich
This results in the condition known as cataracts.
The clouding can have different causes. Because the proteins in the lens are formed in the embryo and are not replaced, damage can accumulate over the years, ultimately causing the lens to cloud over. That is why cataracts occur mainly in older people. But some individuals have a genetic predisposition to the eye condition, in which proteins in the lens mutate. In these cases, cataracts are present at birth or appear during childhood.
Unstable proteins eliminated immediately
The scientists studied strains of mice affected by hereditary cataracts. They worked with the research group surrounding Jochen Graw, an expert in ...