Major cause of blindness linked to calcium deposit

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Thousands of hydroxyapatite spheres (magenta), each just a few microns across, are found in large drusen deposits within the eye (credit: Imre Lengyel, UCL)

From UCL News-

Microscopic spheres of calcium phosphate have been linked to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a major cause of blindness, by UCL-led research.

AMD affects 1 in 5 people over 75, causing their vision to slowly deteriorate, but the cause of the most common form of the disease remains a mystery. The ability to spot the disease early and reliably halt its progression would improve the lives of millions, but this is simply not possible with current knowledge and techniques. The latest research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has implicated tiny spheres of mineralised calcium phosphate, ‘hydroxylapatite’, in AMD progression. This not only offers a possible explanation for how AMD develops, but also opens up new ways to diagnose and treat the disease.

Read the full article and interview to Dr Imre Lengyel (Senior Research Fellow at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Honorary Research Fellow at Moorfields Eye Hospital) HERE.

You can also read the full PNAS paper HERE.

Biologically targeted probes for Zn2+: a diversity oriented modular “click-SNAr-click” approach

New publication from Prof Watkinson (Queen Mary University of London) and Prof Rutter (Imperial College London).

Here the abstract:

“We describe a one-pot strategy for the high yielding, operationally simple synthesis of fluorescent probes for Zn2+ that bear biological targeting groups and exemplify the utility of our method through the preparation of a small library of sensors. Investigation of the fluorescence behaviour of our library revealed that although all behaved as expected in MeCN, under biologically relevant conditions in HEPES buffer, a plasma membrane targeting sensor displayed a dramatic switch on response to excess Zn2+ as a result of aggregation phenomena. Excitingly, in cellulo studies in mouse pancreatic islets demonstrated that this readily available sensor was indeed localised to the exterior of the plasma membrane and clearly responded to the Zn2+ co-released when the pancreatic beta cells were stimulated to release insulin. Conversely, sensors that target intracellular compartments were unaffected. These results demonstrate that this sensor has the potential to allow the real time study of insulin release from living cells and exemplifies the utility of our simple synthetic approach.”

Full text can be found online.