Sunday, March 13, 2016

New Procedure for FED Could Reduce Need for Corneal Transplants

Louis Kreisberg is the CEO of The Foundation Fighting Blindness, where the causes, cures and
prevention of eye diseases is the focus of ongoing research.

A minimally invasive procedure to treat one of the more common eye ailments, Fuchs endothelial dystrophy (FED) is proving to be at least as effective as the present standard of care, namely, a cornea transplant.

Researcher Kathryn Colby, MD, PhD, and others found that removing just a few square millimeters fo a single layer of cells on the inside of the cornea stimulated the rejuvenation of the nearby tissue, eliminating the need for a corneal transplant. For every four patients with FED who had the procedure, three experienced the restoration of clear vision. FED is the most frequent cause of corneal transplants in the US.
"It's too soon to call this a cure," Colby said. "We performed the first operation just over two years ago. But when it works, it's a wonderful thing. It's quick, inexpensive and it spares patients from having someone else's cells in their eyes, which requires local immunosuppression."
One patient who had the procedure described his recovery:
"Few things remind you as constantly as deteriorating vision," the patient recalled. "Your world steadily narrows as you lose the ability to see. But mine expanded again at the other end. I remember walking the dog at night right after the operation. Each night, the streetlights would be a little more in focus. You could see the improvement, night after night over the course of a few weeks, like the fog lifting out of London. It was cool. Really cool."

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Gene Therapy Helps Sheep Overcome “Day Blindness”

The Foundation Fighting Blindness, where Louis Kreisberg is CEO, supports a blog called “Eye on the Cure,” which explores the latest research in retinal disease. Recently the blog discussed a new therapy which was tried on sheep suffering from achromatopsia, an illness that not only affects sheep but about 100,000 people each year, causing blindness in light conditions.

Sheep with the illness were treated by a research team led by Eyal Banin, MD, PhD of Hadassah Medical Center in Israel. University of Florida’s William Hauswirth, PhD supplied the gene-delivery system, the human-engineered adeno-associated virus, or AAV, which delivered the healthy gene to the sheep retinas.

Sheep with achromatopsia were given the virus loaded with the good gene. Whereas before the treatment they could not successfully navigate through a maze to find their flock, after the treatment they were successful.

The research results were published in the journal Molecular Therapy.

The below video shows the results of the therapy: