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Australian researchers to conduct world-first glaucoma trial

14/03/2018By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
Researchers from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) are conducting a world-first human trial of an over-the-counter vitamin supplement to treat glaucoma.

The six-month clinical trial, lead by outgoing CERA managing director Professor Jonathan Crowston and conducted by Dr Flora Hui, will aim to prove that therapeutic use of high dosage vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) could be used to support existing therapies for glaucoma, such as daily eye drops or surgery.


“Our study hopes to confirm that vitamin B3 can protect nerve cells from dying, in a similar way that adding oil to a faulty car engine can still allow it to run more smoothly.”
Dr Flora Hui, researcher

“We have recently discovered that in the early stages after an injury, visual function can in fact recover, but that the ability to recover diminishes with increasing age,” Crowston said.

“We have developed clinical tests that now allow us to look for visual recovery in the clinic and are beginning to look at treatment that could boost recovery. Our premise is that if you can improve optic nerve recovery after an injury that we can reduce the risk of glaucoma progressing.”

Hui further elaborated on the research by relating it to the need for people to service their cars.

“Imagine your car’s engine is running a bit rough and as a result, the car doesn’t drive smoothly. If you top up the engine with oil, the car runs better, even though you haven’t fixed the underlying problem,” Hui said.

“Our study hopes to confirm that vitamin B3 can protect nerve cells from dying, in a similar way that adding oil to a faulty car engine can still allow it to run more smoothly.”

Similar research from a US team provided encouraging results last year – vitamin B3 given to glaucoma-prone mice prevented optic nerve degeneration and glaucoma, to such an extent that it reversed the negative effects of ageing in the mouse eye.

CERA is actively recruiting more patients, who can register as a volunteer by visiting its Clinical Trial Registry Web Sight page.

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