Listen to this page using ReadSpeaker

Ben Shaberman

As the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ Director, Science Communications, Ben writes science and research articles for the Foundation’s website, newsletters and Eye on the Cure blog. Before joining the Foundation in 2003, he worked as a staff writer for health, long-term care and hospice care organizations. Ben’s freelance essays and commentaries have been published by a variety of national newspapers and magazines.

The following articles were authored by Ben Shaberman

Stem-Cell Therapy for Retinitis Pigmentosa Safe Thus Far in Early Human Study

Dr. Klassen in his labAn emerging stem-cell-derived treatment designed to preserve and potentially restore vision in people with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) has demonstrated a favorable safety profile in an ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial at the University of California, Irvine. The therapy is being developed by the regenerative medicine company jCyte with trial funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Earlier research funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness helped advance this therapeutic approach toward a human study.

Given this trial is one of the first-ever for a stem-cell-derived therapy for RP, this safety report is good news and an important step in the right direction. We at the Foundation look forward to additional reports from this study in the coming years as the trial advances.

Continue Reading…

VISIONS 2016 – Dr. Richard Weleber Receives FFB’s Highest Research Honor, Recognized in Touching Video

Dr. Richard WeleberConsidering all that Richard Weleber, M.D., has accomplished over four decades —
including leadership and oversight of clinical trials for emerging retinal-disease therapies and innovations in retina imaging and functional evaluation at the world-renowned Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University — it comes as no surprise that he’s been given FFB’s Llura Liggett Gund Award for career achievement. Dr. Weleber became the 10th recipient of the Foundation’s highest honor, named after FFB co-founder Lulie Gund, during the opening lunch of the VISIONS 2016 conference.
Continue Reading…

A Steady Hand in Saving Vision

Dr. Robert MacLaren performing eye surgery.A retinal researcher can develop the best vision-saving stem-cell or gene therapy ever imagined, but if the doctor or surgeon can’t deliver it to the retina safely and effectively, the treatment is worthless. It could even be harmful.
Continue Reading…

Fighting Blindness Gets Sheepish

A sheep in tall grass.We all know from the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” that “everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.” But what if the lamb had a vision-robbing retinal disease, making it challenging to find Mary prancing around a sunlit meadow, or catching some rays on the Jersey Shore?
Continue Reading…

ARVO 2016: High-School Sophomore Finds Gene Mutation in Family with Choroideremia

Aditya A. Guru explaining his posterWhile I was perusing posters on genetic research in the exhibit hall at the ARVO annual meeting, Radha Ayyagari, Ph.D., an FFB-funded genetic scientist from the University of California, San Diego took me by the arm and said, “Come with me. There’s something you really need to see.”
Continue Reading…

ARVO 2016: Emerging Drug Targets Toxic Build-Up in Stargardt Disease

Dr. Hendrik Scholl at ARVO 2016.Like many diseases affecting the macula, the center of the retina, Stargardt disease is a waste-management problem. The “garbage” comes from the processing of vitamin A, which is an essential nutrient for vision. If you think of the retina as the engine for vision, vitamin A is the fuel; it enables the retina to convert light into the electrical signals that enable vision. And just like gasoline, which produces exhaust, vitamin A, when metabolized, leads to undesirable by-products.
Continue Reading…

ARVO 2016: What Does It Take to Develop a Stem-Cell Therapy for the Retina?

Drs. Jeffrey Stern and Sally TempleThe effort to restore vision lost to retinal diseases using stem cells can sound so tantalizing simple. The researcher gets some stem cells, turns them into retinal cells, puts them in the patient’s retina to replace lost cells and—voila!—the patient can see again.
Continue Reading…

ARVO 2016: ProgSTAR, FFB-CRI’s Stargardt Disease Patient Study, Highlighted

Janet Cheetham, ProgSTAR's liaison to FFBOne of the hot topics at ARVO 2016 is ProgSTAR, the natural history study for people with Stargardt disease funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness Clinical Research Institute (FFB-CRI). I caught up with Janet Cheetham, Pharm.D., the project’s liaison to FFB, to explain why the effort is important to therapy development. Having spent more than three decades in the development of retinal and ophthalmological treatments at Allergan, she brings a wealth of insight and knowledge to her role.
Continue Reading…

Treatments for Retinal Diseases are Leading to Therapies for the Brain

An image of the brainThe retina—the thin, fragile layer of tissue lining the back of the eye—gives us the invaluable gift of vision. It works like film or digital sensors in a camera by converting the light that enters our eye into electrical signals. Those signals are sent over the optic nerve to the back of the brain, where they are used to create the images we see.
Continue Reading…

Past Sun Exposure Increases AMD Risk

FFB staff members taking preventive measuresIf you’re a young or middle-aged adult who enjoys being outside in the bright sunshine, you’re probably not thinking about the risk for going blind from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). But according to a new study published in the journal Retina, you should be.
Continue Reading…