A newly developed, genetically modified pig may hold the keys to the development of improved treatments and possibly even a cure for retinitis pigmentosa (RP), the most common inherited retinal disease in the United States. The pig model was developed by researchers in the University of Louisville Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences and at the National Swine Resource and Research Center at the University of Missouri. "We have previously relied mostly on rodent models to study the development and progression of this disease, and although very important insights have been obtained, rodent eyes are much smaller than human eyes and they lack some important retinal structures, so the development of a large animal model of RP is an important step forward in the research of this blinding disease, " said Henry J.
Scientists from the Schepens Eye Research Institute, a subsidiary of Mass. Eye and Ear and affiliate of Harvard Medical School, have found for the first time that a bacterial pathogen can literally mow down protective molecules, known as mucins, on mucus membranes to enter and infect a part of the body. Their landmark study, published in PLoS ONE, describes how they discovered that an "epidemic" strain of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes conjunctivitis, secretes an enzyme to damage mucins and breach the mucosal membrane to infect and inflame the eye. "We are excited about this finding, " says Ilene Gipson, Ph.D., the study's principal investigator and a senior scientist at the Schepens. "Our discovery may ultimately lead to new ways of diagnosing, treating and preventing bacterial infections originating not only in the eye but in other parts of the body as well.
'The Roadmap To Close The Gap For Vision' - 70 Million Could Save The Sight Of Indigenous Australians
Presently Indigenous Australians suffer six times the blindness of mainstream Australians and 94 percent of vision loss in Indigenous Australians is unnecessary, preventable or treatable. 'The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision' is the first comprehensive framework to 'close the gap' on Indigenous eye health and draws together more than five years extensive research and consultation.â ¨ The report was authored by University of Melbourne academics Professor Hugh Taylor, Melbourne Laureate Professor and Harold Mitchell Chair of Indigenous Eye Health, Andrea Boudville and Mitchell Anjou of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit, and was launched by the Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Federal Minister for Indigenous Health in Adelaide. Professor Taylor said there was no reason for Indigenous Australians to go blind unnecessarily.
A new cornea may be the only way to prevent a patient going blind - but there is a shortage of donated corneas and the queue for transplantation is long. Scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have for the first time successfully cultivated stem cells on human corneas, which may in the long term remove the need for donors. Approximately 500 corneal transplantations are carried out each year in Sweden, and about 100, 000 in the world. The damaged and cloudy cornea that is turning the patient blind is replaced with a healthy, transparent one. But the procedure requires a donated cornea, and there is a severe shortage of donated material. This is particularly the case throughout the world, where religious or political views often hinder the use of donated material.
As the proportion of senior citizens grows, their special needs are gaining momentum. Human eyesight, for example, weakens with age. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has been developing new NFC-based applications that make life easier for the visually impaired. A group of affected persons recently tested an innovative, speech-based item identification system and new "talking" packaging for medicine and food. Solutions that link products and digital product info are becoming ever more common. They offer a range of possibilities for both the normal-sighted and the visually impaired. Food packaging, for example, can include links to information relevant to the individual customer, from the origins of the product to ecological aspects and possible allergy risks. The HearMeFeelMe project, a collaborative effort by VTT, TopTunniste (Finland) Tecnalia (Spain) and Demokritos (Greece), introduced five different applications for acquiring medical information, all of them based on NFC technology (Near Field Communication).