• Cell
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology

    Researchers at UC San Francisco have designed a small-molecule kinase inhibitor that significantly protects against degenerative forms of blindness and diabetes in rats and mice.

    Their research, published in the July 10 edition of Cell, explains how the compound – KIRA6, an advanced kinase inhibiting RNase attenuator – inhibits the IRE1 protein pathway, leading to blockage of cell death and preservation of function.

    KIRA6 preserved visual function in two rat models of retinitis pigmentosa and protected beta cells in Akita mice, which carry a genetic mutation that causes diabetes in early life, leading to a two-fold increase in insulin production and improving blood glucose control.

    “This is a huge advance in our field,” said co-senior author Scott A. Oakes, MD, associate professor of pathology at UCSF. “On the surface these would seem to be two very different diseases, but IRE1-induced cell death is at the root of both of them.”