Diabetic eye disease is among the most frequent complications in diabetic patients. It can lead to severe visual impairment and blindness. Current available treatments are not ideal, and there is a pressing need for new treatment options.

Diabetes is associated with accelerated ageing and inflammation. This ageing process in cells is called senescence. Dr Reinhold Medina at Queen's University Belfast and her team are researching premature vascular senescence during diabetic retinopathy. They have evidence that the cells forming blood vessels in the retina are affected by premature senescence and associated inflammation during diabetes. A new treatment idea is to find drugs that target these senescent cells in the retina before they lead to significant inflammation and tissue damage.

Since diabetic eye disease affects retinal blood vessels, this study will investigate if diabetes accelerates ageing and inflammation, specifically in the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels in the retina. In addition, we will evaluate how diabetes-related ageing impacts on cell function. Finally, we will test if drugs that target cellular senescence can be used to protect these retinal blood vessel cells from accelerated ageing.

In summary, this is a basic scientific study using human cells and diabetic conditions in petri dishes, to demonstrate that accelerated ageing and inflammation are caused by diabetes. If so, then this will lead to further studies to explore new treatment possibilities for diabetic eye disease.

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