Scientists have found a cure for one of the world's leading causes of blindness in an oven cleaner.
Drops containing a substance commonly used to polish glass and remove grease could be used to treat glaucoma, claim researchers.
University of Central Florida scientists report in the latest issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry B that cerium oxide nanoparticles (nanoceria), a common ingredient in oven cleaners, not only inhibits carbonic anhydrase II enzyme, but also tends to have pretty good absorption rates across the cornea.
Sudipta Seal, lead researcher at University of Central Florida, was testing cerium oxide nanoparticles, or nanoceria, for use as a catalyst to remove grime from oven walls, when he realised they might have medical applications.
"Before using any nanoparticles we have to check for toxicity," New Scientist quoted Seal, as saying.
Seal added that the substance did not irritate the eye when it was tested on both rats and rabbits and in some cases they helped protect cells from light damage.
"We realised that nanoceria might make a good vessel for delivering drugs directly into the eye," says Seal.
Glaucoma involves an irregular accumulation of fluid inside the eye. Existing eye-drop treatments contain chemicals that don't attach to transport proteins very successfully, so only a small amount gets through the cornea.
Now Seal and colleague Sanku Mallik have effectively combined nanoceria with a compound that blocks the hCAII enzyme, which is involved in producing fluid inside the eye.
At around 10 nanometres wide, the nanoceria are the right size and shape to make a way into the cornea.
"We hope to have a high concentration of the drug reaching inside the eye, also allowing us to cut down on the dosage needed," Mallik said.