What is Squalamine?
Squalamine is an aminosteroid which is a steroid chemically linked to an amino acid. It is found in liver tissue of deep water sharks. It is a bile-like acid. Squalamine comprises the largest quantity of extracts of a larger aminosteroid group in shark liver. Squalamine is a protein that is not broken down by digestive enzymes in the stomach. It can therefore be taken orally.
What Actions are Attributed to Squalamine?
Squalamine has a very strong broad antimicrobial action. It has activity against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. Squalamine also has been shown to have anti-angiogenic activity against rapidly growing blood vessels. Angiogenesis is the growth of new blood vessels which in many cases can have a deleterious effect. Angiogenesis can be found in cancers and the wet-type of macular degeneration. Therefore Squalamine is being investigated for the treatment of cancer, macular degeneration, proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and other diseases.
Squalamine interacts with the plasma membranes of bacteria and interferes with the bacteria life cycle in a unknown manner. Squalamine disrupts certain activities in cells which inhibits endothelial migration and angiogenesis.
Squalamine and Treating Macular Degeneration
There are two basic types of macular degeneration which are called dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration.
Dry Macular Degeneration
Dry macular degeneration comprises 85 to 90 percent of people with macular degeneration. It is characterized by the slow degeneration of the retinal cells in the macula. The macula is responsible for all our clear central vision that we use for reading, driving, watching TV, work, and all activities that require clear sharp vision. This degeneration gradually progresses slowly over time and may take many years before the person loses their central vision. There is no treatment for dry macular degeneration at this time. Nutritional supplements and diets containing dark green leafy vegetables has been shown to decrease the rate of progression by as much as 40 percent.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet macular degeneration occurs in ten to fifteen percent of people who have dry macular degeneration. It is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels into the macula leaking blood and serum into the retina. This abnormal growth of blood vessels can lead to rapid loss of vision and legal blindness. The person losses their central vision but usually maintain their peripheral vision.
Treatment for Wet Macular Degeneration
At this time people with wet macular degeneration receive injection of drugs into the vitreous in the back of the eye that block angiogenesis of new blood vessels. These injections are given every month in the beginning and sometimes be decreased to every three or four months if the vessels are not coming back.
Squalamine is now being studied in eye drop form applied to the eye. It has received fast status by the FDA. Squalamine can potentially stop the growth of the abnormal vessels into the macula by topical application f an eye drop. If Squalamine is successful in treating wet macular degeneration it was save people from having the monthly injections into their eyes.