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Archive for the Retinitis pigmentosa Category

Foundation Investing in Drug to Slow Many Forms of RP

Sometimes, fighting blindness means helping people save the vision they have, or at least slowing disease progression enough so they can maintain useful vision for all of their lives.

That’s the idea behind a promising, emerging drug for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) known as N-acetylcysteine-amide (NACA). The Foundation Fighting Blindness Clinical Research Institute (FFB-CRI) has announced an investment of up to $7.5 million to advance the potential therapy into and through a Phase II clinical trial. In several animal models, including previous FFB-funded lab studies of rodent models at Johns Hopkins University, NACA slowed retinal degeneration.

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A Change in Identity Might Someday Save Vision

retina

No, people with inherited retinal diseases don’t have to adopt new names or personas, or go into witness protection programs, to save their vision. But by changing the identity of cells in the retina — namely rods — researchers may someday be able to slow or halt vision loss for those with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and other related conditions.

While the innovative therapeutic approach is not ready to be tested in humans, a research team led by Tom Reh, PhD, University of Washington, and Sheng Ding, PhD, University of California, San Francisco, accomplished the feat in mice with RP. The investigators treated rods in the mice with a compound known as photoregulin1 (PR1) that blocked a gene involved in rod development called Nr2e3. That, in turn, reduced the expression (activity) of other rod-associated genes, making the rods less rod-like and more like cones. Doing so stopped retinal degeneration, preserving both rods and cones. Rods and cones are important, because they’re the cells that make vision possible. Results of the PR1 study were published online in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

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Embrace Your Exceptions: A Mantra for Understanding Retinal-Disease Inheritance

Stephen Daiger, Ph.D. and colleague Lori Sullivan, Ph.D.Inherited retinal diseases are difficult to understand merely because they’re so rare and diverse. More than 250 genes, when mutated, can cause them, yet collectively, they affect only 200,000 people in the United States.

Their widely varying impact on vision adds to the challenge. For example, the youngest sibling in a family may be nearly blind from retinitis pigmentosa (RP), while his or her older brother or sister with the same RP gene mutation can have near normal vision.

But as FFB-funded retinal geneticist Stephen Daiger, Ph.D., discussed at the RD2016 meeting in Kyoto, Japan, the complex and elusive nature of these conditions can also extend to the way they are passed down in families, making diagnosis and prognosis quite challenging. Dr. Daiger was one of nearly 300 retinal researchers who gathered September 19-24, 2016, for the world’s largest conference focused exclusively on retinal degenerative diseases. The conference was supported in-part by FFB.
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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.
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Back in Baltimore – VISIONS 2016, FFB’s National Conference, Returns to Its Founding City

Baltimore's Inner HarborFor the second year in a row, the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ national conference — this year titled VISIONS 2016 — will take place in FFB’s founding city of Baltimore, Maryland, June 30-July 3. More than 500 people are expected to attend the event, which will offer dozens of research- and lifestyle-focused sessions designed for people who are visually impaired and sighted as well.
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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.
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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.
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Two New Videos Highlight FFB’s Vital Role in Retinal Research

Dr. Boye in her lab, conducting a tourAs everyone knows, there is never just one side to a story. That’s certainly true in the case of Dr. Shannon Boye, whose FFB-funded research is the subject of not just one but two new Foundation videos.
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For Rare Disease Day – The Many Benefits of Genetic Research

Rare Disease Day logoIt’s apropos that Rare Disease Day 2016 will be held on the rarest day on the calendar—Leap Day, February 29.

However, collectively, rare diseases are not uncommon. About 30 million Americans, nearly 10 percent of our population, are affected by one of 7,000 rare diseases. They’re an important public health issue, making it incumbent upon us to work hard to eradicate them.
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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.
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