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Archive for the Retinitis pigmentosa Category

‘Maybe I’ll Come Up with a Cure’ – Nathan Hayes’ Story

Nathan HayesLike his parents, Nathan Hayes keeps up with the latest advances in retinal research. He’s even had some skin removed, so that a researcher can create stem cells that may someday restore the vision he’s lost to retinitis pigmentosa. “I figured I’ve learned so much about the science, I might be a researcher myself,” he says. “Maybe I’ll come up with a cure.”
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A True Survivor — Q&A with Fred Scheer, a World War II Vet with RP

Fred Scheer, US ArmyWhen I first met Fred Scheer, I was impressed by his quiet, friendly demeanor. I had no clue, at the time, that he was a U.S. Army veteran who’d been deployed during the D-Day invasion, captured by the Germans and then sent to a labor camp, from which he managed to escape. What is also interesting is that Fred is Jewish and has retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
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The Top Research Advancements of 2014: How Fast Can We Go?

lab photoAs we approach 2015, it’s inspiring to look back on 2014 and recount the numerous advancements we’ve made in developing vision-saving treatments and cures. When I joined the Foundation nearly a decade ago, virtually nothing was in a human study. We were curing lots of blind mice, and clinical trials seemed elusive. But, today, more than a dozen promising therapies are being evaluated in people, and at least a dozen more clinical trials are expected to begin in the next few years.
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A Spice for the Eyes

TumericTurmeric, also known as “the golden spice,” has been around for more than 4,000 years. In India, where Radha Ayyagari, Ph.D., grew up, it’s used widely as both a food spice and an herbal medicine for treating a variety of diseases, including cancer, arthritis, urinary-tract infections and digestive disorders. It has been scientifically established that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a potent antioxidant. So it’s perhaps no surprise that Dr. Ayyagari, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, San Diego, is developing an extract from turmeric that may be useful in slowing retinal degeneration.
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Bionic Vision Down Under

Participant in BVA human trialIt’s an exciting time in the world of bionic retinas, which are enabling people with blinding retinal diseases to perceive patterns of light. This, in turn, allows them to interpret basic shapes and objects, thereby improving their mobility and independence. Second Sight’s Argus II is available in the United States and Europe, and Retina Implant AG’s Alpha IMS is also on the market in Europe. Many research groups around the world are developing devices as well.
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Low-Hanging Fruit: Repurposing Drugs to Treat Retinal Diseases

Low-hanging fruitMany years ago, while picking apples with my uncle, he advised me to “pick the low-hanging fruit.” That way, he told me, you can fill your basket faster and not be as tired at the end of the day. I think the same can be said of drug repurposing—the process of evaluating a drug prescribed for one disease to see if it can safely and effectively treat another disease.
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Genetics 101: How Some Retinal Diseases are Inherited

Egg and spermLong before the advent of genetic testing, or even knowledge of DNA and RNA, astute observers noticed that many traits were passed from one generation to another. But it still can be difficult to understand why some people inherit a genetic disease and others do not. Also, it’s often not clear which family members are at risk of inheriting a condition.
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Despite Blindness, the Peaches are Sweet in Paran

Ignacio, a farmer with RP, tends to his peach orchard in Peru.Paran, a village of 300 people tucked in the foothills of the Andes near Lima, Peru, is known for its sweet peaches, but also its high rate of blindness. About one in eight Paranos have lost their vision.

Until recently, the villagers never understood the cause of the affliction, though they suspected there might be a genetic component because it runs in families. However, most had never even received care from a doctor.
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Lighting a Candle: The Author of a New Memoir Shares the Highs and Lows of Vision Loss

Nicole Kear with cane and bookI was 19 years old when I found out I was losing my vision as a result of a retinal disease called retinitis pigmentosa. Halfway through college, I was perched between girlhood and adulthood; I was developing my adult sense of self, planning what my grown-up life would look like. The news that I would slowly go blind changed everything.
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ARVO 2014: European Collaboration Developing Cross-Cutting, Vision-Saving Therapies

The DRUGSFORD collaborativeOne of the most intriguing reports on therapy development at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology came from a European collaborative project called DRUGSFORD, which is derived from the phrase “drugs for retinal degeneration.” With funding from the European Union, the project brings together three research groups and two companies to develop a therapy that can treat a disease pathway common to many retinal degenerations. Simply put, they’re creating therapies that can save vision in as many people as possible, independent of the genetic cause of disease.
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