Researchers hope for progress on Graves' disease treatment

Verity Stockdale - Sep 2013

Scientists believe they may have made a breakthrough that could lead to a treatment for Graves' disease patients being developed.

A treatment for people with Graves' disease could be on the cards as a result of pioneering research carried out in the UK.

Experts at King's College London School of Medicine have produced an animal model that simulates the eye complications a person with the condition can experience.

This, they believe, could make it possible for scientists to carry out mechanistic studies and come up with preventative therapies for patients.

Lead researcher J Paul Banga described Graves' disease as a "painful and debilitating" condition, but said treatment options for those who experience eye complications are limited at the moment.

"Better treatments are needed for Graves' orbitopathy to reduce the risks of permanent disfigurement and social stigma," he commented.

"Having an animal model to test preventative treatments could lead to important advances that will ultimately benefit people with Graves' disease."

Symptoms of Graves' orbitopathy including a swelling of tissue behind the eyes, which means they end up bulging outwards. This can be painful for people with the condition and can potentially cause blindness.

Graves' disease can also lead to the thyroid gland becoming overactive and producing excessive quantities of the thyroid hormone.

If a person does not undergo treatment, they can experience further health issues including osteoporosis and heart failure.

The study by King's College London School of Medicine, which was published in the Endocrinology journal, noted that more than half of those with Graves' disease go on to develop eye complications. Researchers at the institution added that the condition is most common in females.

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