Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, with over 60 million people suffering from the neurodegenerative disease worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The disease is a result of losing retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which send visual signals to the brain. When these cells die, they do not regenerate, leading to vision loss and eventually blindness.
Pharmactive Biotech Products, S.L. developed AffronEYE, the saffron extract used in the study, which demonstrated an ability to protect retinal cells from damage and death and reduce intraocular hypertension (OHT). OHT is high pressure inside the eye and a key aspect of glaucoma development.
The study was led by Jose Fernandez-Albarral, PhD, of the Complutense University of Madrid. Two members of the research team were employees of Pharmactive Biotech Products SL at the time of the experiments.
Researchers split the subjects into two groups of glaucoma-induced male Swiss albino mice. One group received a single oral daily dose of affronEYE over a period of seven days and the other group served as a control.
After treatment with AffronEYE, the number of living retinal ganglion cells in the treated group was significantly higher in comparison to the non-treated group. The treated group maintained healthy eye levels by the end of the intervention. Protein biomarkers of inflammation were also reduced.
AffronEYE's activities are attributed to crocins and crocetins, its naturally occurring bioactive compounds. These carotenoids are reported to possess a full spectrum of anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and neuroprotective properties through their ability to scavenge free oxygen radicals, thus reducing retinal cell damage and cellular self-destruction.
Alberto Espinel, head of R&D for Pharmactive, said crocins significantly increase the blood flow in the retina. "They are believed to improve oxygenation and nutrient supply to retinal structures, serving to slow or completely prevent the development of glaucoma."
Espinel added, "AffronEYE is a next-gen ingredient formulated specifically to address eye health. It is extracted from genuine Spanish saffron derived from the delicate dried stigmas of Crocus sativus L. grown in Pharmactive-owned fields in Castilla-La-Mancha in Spain. Our proprietary extraction process allows affronEYE to claim the lowest therapeutic dose available on the market at 20mg/day and ensures the fastest absorption — faster than other traditional carotenoids."
AffronEYE was an award winner at the 2019 Nutraingredients-Asia expo and is all-natural, water-soluble, non-GMO, and has not been irradiated. The ingredient also carries kosher, halal, and organic certifications.
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Source: International Journal of Molecular Sciences
vol. 20,17 4110. 22 Aug. 2019, doi:10.3390/ijms20174110
“Neuroprotective and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of a Hydrophilic Saffron Extract in a Model of Glaucoma”
Authors: J. Fernández-Albarral et al.