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Posts tagged age-related macular degeneration

Stem Cells Derived from Patient’s Skin Provide Insights into AMD

Dr. Stephen TsangInduced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) — stem cells derived by genetically tweaking a small sample of a person’s skin or blood — are again demonstrating their power for helping researchers fight retinal diseases.

In this latest development, Stephen Tsang, M.D., Ph.D., a Foundation-funded researcher at Columbia University, used them to create a human model of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The advancement not only gives us a better understanding of how AMD occurs; it provides a new, and potentially better, platform for testing vision-saving therapies. Results of the study were published in Human Molecular Genetics.

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All-Star Vision

When the Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones makes a great catch — a feat the Gold Glove centerfielder accomplishes on a regular basis — he isn’t thinking about his retinas. But in the five seconds it takes a baseball to leave an opponent’s bat and reach Jones’ glove, his retinas are processing an enormous amount of real-time visual information — continual changes in the contrast, velocity and trajectory of the ball as it rockets out of the infield, reaches high into the stadium lights (or the sun) and descends into the outfield.
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FDA Approval of an iPhone Eye Test

Example Interface of the myVisionTrack app.

Retinal diseases may be incurable, at the moment, but, with the help of specialized training and technology, they are not unmanageable. In fact, a savvy patient working with a conscientious eye doctor can adjust relatively well to the various stages of vision loss — via, for instance, mobility or assistive-technology training. And in the case of wet age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, there are treatments that slow vision loss.
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Appreciating the Beauty of the Retina

An image of a mouse retina captured by Dr. Luca Della Santina, University of Washington. The retina is an amazingly elegant and complex tissue lining the back of the eye. Retinas make vision possible; without them, we can’t see. But most people never think about their retinas —  unless, of course, they have a retinal condition affecting their vision.

I’ll always remember my first Foundation Fighting Blindness conference, when I heard Dr. Dean Bok, of the University of California, Los Angeles, discuss the retina’s design and how it worked. I was new to the field and just learning. Dr. Bok opened his presentation by saying that, as a student, he was “seduced” by the beauty of retinal science. By the end of his impassioned talk, I, too, was hooked.
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My Race to Cure Blindness

Michael Stone in a bike race Although a disease called cone-rod dystrophy has rendered me legally blind, I’m known, in certain circles, as a world-class triathlete. I swim as well as bike and run (often on mountain trails). I began competing before my vision deteriorated, and I’ve since learned to use my other senses. In fact, I like to think of my feet as my eyes. I take an awful lot of steps, and I don’t land heavily. If I’m on a trail and step on something that doesn’t feel right, I hop off, then move quickly forward. It’s usually on the run where I beat my competition.

But you know what? I can no longer shop for groceries.

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Curing Blindness, Part 2: Dick’s Story

Image of Dick CoulsonTwo days ago, as part of FFB’s “Light the Way to a Cure” fundraising campaign, I shared the story of Corey Haas, as an example of clinical trial participants benefitting from gene therapy studies the Foundation supports. In his case, the therapy’s for a retinal disease called Leber congenital amaurosis. Today, I’d like to share the story of Dick Coulson (pictured, left), who has age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in people age 55 and older. It’s also the target of two treatments that are currently in clinical, or human, trials, both of which are derived from stem cells.
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Genes Not Helpful in Predicting Onset of Late AMD

“Checkers,” an entry in the 2011 Midwest Cream Cheese Competition.

With a population of about 17,000, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is a typical Midwestern community and, according to its website, “a thriving city and wonderful place to call home.” With attractions such as the beautiful 6,000-acre Beaver Dam Lake and the Midwest Cream Cheese Competition, who am I to argue? But most important, at least in the fight against blindness, Beaver Dam plays a big role in the search for knowledge about age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
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Israeli Research Group Receives $1.33 Million to Advance Stem Cell Treatment

Dr. Benjamin Reubinoff

I was heartened to just learn that researchers from the Hadassah-Hebrew Medical Center in Jerusalem are receiving a $1.33 million grant from the Israeli government to advance their development of a stem cell treatment for people with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD Hadassah is also funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness. We are providing the group with a three-year, $300,000 grant for development of stem cell therapies.

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Tempering the Immune System to Save Vision

A retina with dry AMD. The yellow spots (called drusen) accumulate and can cause damage in AMD. The human body has highly impressive mechanisms to protect itself from harm. For example, a group of molecules known as the complement system work with antibodies to kill invading bacteria by punching holes in them and letting the internal contents leak out.
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Have I Got a Cure for You! Debunking an Alleged Treatment on the Internet

In the lab with beakerIt seems there is no dearth of fantastic cures being touted on the Internet and in email inboxes these days. Sort of reminds me of those old Western movies where the itinerant peddler sells the magic elixir that will cure any and all ailments you have. Continue Reading…