Researchers trying to find treatments for relieving dry eye syndrome have been constantly focused on expanding understanding the molecular architecture of eye’s tear film. The oily film, a mixture of several lipids, prevents frequent drying of eyes by slowing down the evaporation of water underlying layer. The lipids occupy a key determinant in ensuring clear vision. Determining the exact structure of this complex mixture has been an unsurmountable challenge for scientists for over four decades.
Researcher Understood Biochemical Properties of OAHFAs by synthesizing them
A recent study by several teams of researchers from across numerous universities has shed light on the composition of a key type of lipids called (O-acyl) ω-hydroxy fatty acids (OAHFAs) found in the complex mixture comprising the eye’s protective layer. The researchers from Australia relied on advanced multiple experimental approaches along with laser photons to uncover the molecular structure of these lipids present in the film. The team of researchers from the University of New South Wales, QUT, and University of Wollongong (UOW) collaborated for the study to explore their physical and biochemical properties of the lipids. By successfully synthesizing the lipid molecules in the lab, they were able to confirm the initial findings.
The findings of the study are published in the August 2018 issue of the scientific Journal of Lipid Research.
Advanced Mass Spectrometry Approaches used to Study Complex Molecular Architecture of Lipid Layers
The complex molecular architecture of the eye’s tear film poses substantial challenge for researchers as many key classes of lipids are present in such a low proportion so as to avoid detection. They found OAHFAs to be a key component as they help in smoothly spreading the eye’s tear film.
By employing advanced mass spectrometry-based approaches, it was possible to discover the structure of this long-chain fatty acid. Further research are required to know the role of this class of lipids in the tear film. This will pave way for finding more effective ways to treat dry eye condition. For instance, this could help pharmaceuticals to improve eye drop formulations used to relieve people of the condition.