A new way of tackling ROP

August 22, 2007

A potential new treatment approach for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) may be possible now that insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) has been found to play an important role in promoting the development of retinal blood vessels.

A potential new treatment approach for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) may be possible now that insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) has been found to play an important role in promoting the development of retinal blood vessels, according to researchers from the University of Florida and Harvard Medical School, USA.

IGFBP-3 was already known to play a vital role in the development of various body tissues but, a study led by Maria Grant, MD of the University of Florida found that the protein also activates stem cells and other reparative cells of bone marrow and the lining of blood vessels. The research team infused IGFBP-3 into one eye of nine mice and then placed the mice into a high-oxygen chamber. It was found that the eyes treated with the protein demonstrated more normal retinal blood vessel development.

In a prospective study conducted by Harvard Medical School, it was found that IGFBP-3 levels were lower in infants with ROP than in healthy children, suggesting that the protein helps prevent oxygen-induced blood vessel loss and promotes vascular re-growth.

A study is now being conducted to evaluate whether IGFBP-3, used in conjunction with IGF-1, can help prevent ROP in infants.