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Another feather in fish oil cap: hope against retinal degenerative diseases

Fish oil has numerous health benefits and is being touted as a new age elixir. So another research is in its honour is welcome.Nicolas G. Bazan, MD, PhD, Boyd Professor// and Director of the Neuroscience Centre of Excellence at LSU Health Sciences Centre in New Orleans, in a paper reports on the role that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil play in protecting cells in the retina from degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of loss of vision in those older than 65. The title of the paper is 'Cell survival matters: docosahexaenoic acid signaling, neuroprotection and photoreceptors.'

Dr. Bazan's LSUHSC group, in collaboration with Harvard, has revealed the importance of DHA. RPE cells cope with sunlight and oxidative stress, as well as trauma, by using antioxidants like Vitamin E, present in the cells. Dr. Bazan and colleagues discovered, neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1). NPD1 inhibits genes causing inflammation and cell death that oxidative stress and other triggers turn on.

Still some questions are answered as the identification of another receptor believed to be an important pathway for NPD1, more information about the signals that control the formation of NPD1, and if NPD1 or a synthetic counterpart might be effective when administered therapeutically.

In the words of the discoverer himself, 'Because the early clinical manifestations of most retinal degeneration precedes massive photoreceptor cell death, it is important to define the initial crucial events. This knowledge might be applicable to the design of novel therapeutic interventions to halt or slow disease progression.'

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