A novel function of semaphorin as potential therapeutic target in retinal degenerative diseases

Mar 28, 2012

Under leadership of Professor Atsushi KUMANOGOH and Associate Professor Toshihiko TOYOFUKU of the Immunology Frontier Research Center (IFReC), Osaka University, a team of researchers has discovered that semaphorin protein (SEMA4A) is essential for the maintenance of homostasis of the retina and renal abnormalities cause retinitis pigmentosa.

Retinitis pigmentosa is said to be one of the three causes of acquired blindness.

It has been said that semaphorins, outside cells, served as key molecules and therapeutic targets for human diseases associated with neural development, immunology, blood vessels, bone diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer metastasis, and cancer filtration. The research group found a new function of semaphorins, the involvement of cellular transmigration of materials.

Retinitis pigmentosa is inherited and progressive disorders of retina. In retinitis pigmentosa, photoceptor cells in the retina are damaged; the condition occurs in a ratio of 1 in 4,000 ~ 8,000 people.

The group's finding shows not only a new treatment target of retinitis pigmentosa (which has currently no cure), but also a new biological role of semaphorins that is attracting attention as key molecules and therapeutic targets in human diseases.

To view the full text of this research, go to the online news at the website of the Genes and Development , an authoritative international magazine about molecular biology and embryology.

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