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Archive for the Research Category

Fascinating Facts About Retinal Cells

Diagram of retinal cellsYour eyes are not just windows to your soul, but to your health as well. People rarely pay attention to their eyes, until something goes wrong. The eye is a delicate organ, and vision is a complex process involving various components.
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Inspired by Progress in Usher Syndrome Research

Dr. Mark PennesiWhen I first heard about Usher syndrome, the leading cause of combined blindness and deafness, I was 19, fresh out of high school and very privileged for the opportunity to work as a summer student at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest with David Birch, Ph.D. I was quite moved by the patients — their eagerness for any kind of treatment and the fear that they might pass their disease on to other family members. That was almost 20 years ago. Back then, we knew very little about the condition, especially its genetic diversity, and there were no foreseeable therapies.
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How Evolution is Leading to Gene Therapies for More Retinal Diseases

Dr. John FlanneryAt first blush, gene therapy for retinal diseases seems so simple: Inject a tiny drop of liquid containing good copies of a gene to replace the bad, and you’re home free. Vision is saved, and, in some cases, it’s even restored.

But the reality is: Developing gene therapies that are safe, effective and long-lasting is very challenging in our world of genetically diverse retinal degenerations. Scientists have to design a delivery system that gets the genes to the right types of cells across the entire retina, but without affecting other cells.
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Let’s Get Behind This Senate Bill

The Capitol Building, Washington, DCKudos to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who, yesterday, introduced the Accelerate Biomedical Research Act in Congress. It’s a bill that seeks to restore absolutely necessary funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that has been cut to the bone because of Congress’ years-long impasse on federal-budget spending. But as Sen. Harkin, chairman of the Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, notes in his website post, “biomedical research should not be a partisan issue.”
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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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Brother Virginia — a Big Sound and a Big Heart

Brother Virginia's new EP benefits FFBIf you haven’t already heard of them, you probably will soon. Brother Virginia, a Nashville-based duo mixing pop, country and rock, has been on the road, crisscrossing the United States and amassing a grass-roots following, over the past couple of years. Steve and Eric have also released a new EP, Southern Summer, the proceeds from which are benefitting their favorite cause, the Foundation Fighting Blindness, through July 31.
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VISIONS 2014 — Clinical Trials Need Pioneers

Drs. Shannon Boye and Jacque DuncanWith about 20 clinical trials underway for retinal degenerative diseases, and many more ready to launch soon, the buzz about signing up for them has never been louder. When it comes to human studies for potential treatments and cures, everybody wants in.
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VISIONS 2014 – The Multi-Talented Dr. Shannon Boye

Shannon BoyeShannon Boye, Ph.D., is something of a rock star here at the VISIONS 2014 conference. Serving as a panelist in sessions on gene therapy and clinical trials, the University of Florida assistant professor has won compliments for her skill in explaining complicated research in plain English. And her compassion for those affected by retinal diseases is plain to see.
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VISIONS 2014 — My Retina Tracker: Track Your Vision and Drive the Research

Rusty BromleyOne of the big challenges with rare retinal diseases is, well, they’re rare. That makes it hard for researchers to find disease-causing genetic mutations and understand why the defects result in vision loss. It also makes it tough to figure out why a disease can progress at such different rates, even for people within the same family. Perhaps what’s most difficult is identifying enough participants for clinical trials for potential therapies.
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A Must-Attend Event for People and Families Affected by Usher Syndrome

Usher Syndrome Family ConferenceFor those affected by Usher syndrome, the world’s leading cause of combined vision and hearing loss, there’s an upcoming event in Boston that should not be missed. Actually, it’s two events, back-to-back: the International Symposium on Usher Syndrome July 10 and 11; and the 6th Annual Usher Syndrome Family Conference July 12.
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