An Academia Sinica research team has explained the biochemical mechanism behind a kind of eye drop containing pirenoxine (PRX) that has been used for decades to treat cataracts. “Our findings, which offer new scientific evidence for the use of PRX to treat cataracts, will serve as reference for future biological research,” said Wu Shih-hsiung, a distinguished research fellow and deputy director of Academia Sinica’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, Feb. 16. In the study, the team showed how PRX binds to calcium and selenite in the lens of the eye, thereby effectively reducing the opacity seen in the cataract. Unusually high levels of calcium are known to lead to the loss of transparency in the cortex of the lens, while selenite has been linked to lens opacity in previous scientific studies, according to the team. Their research was published in the online edition of the American Chemical Society journal Inorganic Chemistry Dec. 7, 2010.