Scientists at University College Cork (UCC) in Ireland have shown that the active component (Norgestrel) of the contraceptive ‘Mini Pill’ prevents the loss of sight in mice that have degenerative eye conditions that normally lead to blindness.
The research will be published in the September issue of The Journal of Neurochemistry.
People who suffer from the genetic condition Retinitis Pigmentosa lose their sight because the light detecting cells in their eyes called photoreceptors begin to die by the time they reach their mid-twenties.
In a screening of 1,200 commonly used drugs Professor Tom Cotter and his team in the Biochemistry Department at UCC discovered that Norgestel did more than just provide contraception in mouse models used to study blindness. It also prevented the loss of the light detecting cells and the sight of the mice was retained when the animals were given the drug at a similar concentration used for contraceptive purposes.