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Archive for the Stem Cell Category

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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Top 12 Research Advancements of 2012

Image of lab beakerAt the Foundation Fighting Blindness, we are always looking forward. Our scientists are continually focused on achieving the next sight-saving breakthrough, and our donors and volunteers are always looking for new opportunities to raise more money to drive the research.

But for a moment, as we put the wraps on 2012, it is very inspiring to look back on the past year and reflect on the many exciting advancements that have been made in our quest for treatments and cures.
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Turning Stem Cells Into “Super” Models

detail image of a retina, with photoreceptors in green.It’s a mystery that has confounded scientists for many years: Why don’t mice with Usher syndrome type 1 — one of three types of combined blindness and deafness in humans — lose vision? It is an important question, because mouse models help us understand how vision is lost and how effective treatments might be. But if the mouse isn’t losing vision, how can we tell if a potential vision-saving therapy is working?
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Nobel Prize Winners Have Big Impact on Emerging Retinal Treatments

Video Included:
Shinya Yamanaka, co-winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine.For science geeks like me, the announcement of Nobel Prize for Medicine winners is always exciting news. But this year’s two recipients are especially near and dear to my heart, because their groundbreaking work is having an enormous impact on sight-saving retinal research.

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Stem Cell Therapy Clinical Trial Begins With Initial Participant

Dr. Rand Spencer, left, and Dr. David Birch, surgeon and lead investigator, respectively, in the StemCells, Inc., clinical trial.I was very excited to learn that another clinical trial using stem cells for the potential treatment of a retinal disease — in this case, dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — is now underway. StemCells, Inc. (got to love the company’s name) announced last week that its first patient was treated at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest in Dallas.
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As Requested: A List of Current Clinical Trials for Retinal Degenerations

Image of test tubes filled with different colored liquidsWithout a doubt, as chief research officer at FFB, I get more questions about clinical trials – also known as human studies – than any other topic. So, I thought it would be useful to provide a list of the major clinical trials underway right now for retinal disease treatments. Continue Reading…

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Kicking Off a Charitable Season

Ryan Lochte, I didn’t get a chance to meet. I did, however, get a picture taken with Michael J. Fox, who was very cordial but focused most of his attention—and rightly so—on a little girl with muscular dystrophy. Now, actor Steve Buscemi is a character and a half. I was there with Leah Bartos, who’s Mrs. New York, and because I’m Mrs. World, and the two of us were wearing crowns and sashes, he took a look at us and, before a photo was snapped, said, “Wow, let me get in between these two ladies.”
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Fighting Blindness in China Will Greatly Benefit the West

Huajin Li and Fei Xu, two of Dr. Sui’s students, standing in front of Peking Union Medical College Hospital. Photograph by Dr. Steve Rose.A couple weeks ago, I was in China, to visit with Dr. Ruifang Sui, a Foundation-funded clinician-researcher at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing. During my time there, I felt like I had never left the United States. Don’t get me wrong — there’s no mistaking Beijing for Baltimore (the location of our national office) or Mandarin for English. But when it comes to retinal degenerations, we and the Chinese have a lot in common.

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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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Tiny Implantable Telescope Can Restore Some Central Vision in AMD

Implantable Miniature TelescopeThe ideal way to deal with a disease like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is to prevent it from causing vision loss in the first place. For example, Dr. Barbel Rohrer is developing a Foundation-funded drug that slows retinal degeneration, and resulting vision loss, by bolstering the energy supply of cells in the retina.
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