Monday, June 27, 2016

The Foundation Fighting Blindness and Stem Cell Therapy

Louis Kreisberg is the CEO of The Foundation Fighting Blindness, which funds pioneering research into the causes and cures of illnesses which result in blindness.

One example of up-to-the-minute research funded by the FFB is stem cell transplantation therapy. Many people engaged in finding a cure for blindness have called the transplantation of photo-receptors in order to restore sight as the “holy grail” of possible therapies to cure blindness. The reason is that this therapy has the potential to help people who are living with blindness, but for many difference reasons.

It has already been shown to work in the laboratory where lost photo-receptors have been replaced by injecting stem-cell-derived photo-receptors into the eye. Yet, although much progress has been made with this line of research, there are still many obstacles standing in the way of a cure.

One such hurdle is the inability to distinguish between the newly injected cone photo-receptors from the cone receptors that are already in the eye and not functioning properly. One researcher, Dr. Valerie Wallace, has made a breakthrough towards solving this problem.

“There is considerable work being done on exploring rod cell transplantation in the eye, which has formed the basis for much of the field to this point. Although this work is of significant value to understanding photo-receptor transplantation, replacing a cell type that is responsible for low-light (night) vision in one’s periphery is not an end-point goal of this field,” explained Dr. Phil Nickerson, a collaborator on the project.

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