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Archive for the ‘Blindness’ Category

Vision researchers honored by End Blindness 2020 | Penn Today – Penn Today

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Three University of Pennsylvania researchers have been honored by The Sanford and Sue Greenberg Prize to End Blindness by 2020 for their research, which led to the first Food and Drug Administration-approved gene therapy for a genetic disease. Gustavo D. Aguirre of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Jean Bennett and Albert M. Maguire of the Perelman School of Medicine, together with William Hauswirth of the University of Florida, are recipients of the Outstanding Achievement Prize, to be awarded in a virtual ceremony today.

The four scientists share a $1 million prize, funds that will go to support further laboratory and clinical research that advances vision science. Together, their workgoing from an animal model of disease to human clinical trialsled to an FDA-approved gene therapy for Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) caused by a mutation in the RPE65 gene, a retinal disease that causes visual impairments beginning in infancy. Now commercialized and used routinely, this treatment has reversed blindness and spared the vision of children and adults around the world.

The researchers are among 13 recipients of a total of $3 million from the End Blindness by 2020 initiative, originated by Sanford Greenberg, an

inventor, entrepreneur, and investor who serves as chairman of the board of the Johns Hopkins University Wilmer Eye Institute and who lost his sight at the age of 19 due to disease.

Gustavo D. Aguirre is professor of medical genetics and ophthalmology in the School of Veterinary Medicine. His internationally renowned research, generated during more than four decades, has investigated the genetic basis of a variety of inherited vision disorders, including LCA, Best disease, achromatopsia, and retinitis pigmentosa. His work on novel gene therapy approaches to treatment, which deliver to the eye a functional copy of a gene that is otherwise dysfunctional, has restored vision in animal models of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa and LCA. Aguirre, who earned his V.M.D. and Ph.D. from Penn, is a fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and a member of the National Academy of Medicine, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also a recipient of the Louis Braille Award, Proctor Medal, and Foundation Fighting Blindess Board of Directors Award, among other honors.

Jean Bennett is the F.M. Kirby Professor of Ophthalmology in the Perelman School of Medicine. She is an internationally-recognized pioneer in gene therapy and has dedicated her career to restoring eyesight in the blind. Bennett earned a Ph.D. in zoology and cell and development biology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a medical degree from Harvard University, where she met her future husband and research collaborator, Albert M. Maguire. She has developed a number of strategies for gene therapy-mediated treatments for retinal disease. Her research is focused on the molecular genetics of inherited retinal degenerations in order to develop rational approaches for treating blindness. In addition to the eye, projects in Bennett's laboratory target other diseases/organs suffering from mutations in cilia proteins, including the ear and the kidney.

Albert M. Maguire is a professor of ophthalmology in the Perelman School of Medicine and an attending physician in the Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He earned his medical degree from Harvard University, completed an internship in surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital, a residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and a fellowship at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oaks, Michigan. Maguire specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric retinal diseases. His research interests involve the development of treatments for incurable retinal degenerative disease, including LCA.

The hourlong streamed ceremony, freely accessible at, will feature Art Garfunkel, Margaret Atwood, Al Gore, Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, and musical performances. It will also feature a tribute to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a longtime supporter of the End Blindness movement, including exclusive footage of Ginsburg reading from Hello Darkness, My Old Friend, the memoir of Sanford Greenberg.

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Vision researchers honored by End Blindness 2020 | Penn Today - Penn Today


Kodi Lee Teams up with Foundation Fighting Blindness and Two Blind Brothers for Music to our Eyes Livestream Music Series – PRNewswire

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

"Kodi's inspirational tenacity and spirit is exactly the empowerment the Foundation wants to provide our community."

Kodi's Music to Our Eyes performance will feature a wide variety of covers from his musical repertoire, including You Are The Reason by Calum Scott and Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me by Elton John. Kodi will also perform holiday favorites, Winter Wonderland by Johnny Mathis and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town by Michael Bubl.

In between sets, Jason Menzo, chief operating officer at the Foundation Fighting Blindness, will interview Kodi and his siblings, Derek and Kayla, about their experiences with Kodi's vision loss and discuss his determination to achieve his dreams no matter what obstacles come his way. Event registration is free, but attendees will have the opportunity to contribute, as all net proceeds will go towards the Foundation's mission.

"We're excited to be collaborating with Two Blind Brothers again for a livestream musical performance with Kodi Lee," says Jason Menzo, COO at the Foundation. "Kodi's inspirational tenacity and spirit is exactly the empowerment the Foundation wants to provide for the blind and low vision community."

For more information and to register for a reminder about this event, visit:

About the Foundation Fighting BlindnessEstablished in 1971, the Foundation Fighting Blindness is the world's leading private funding source for retinal degenerative disease research. The Foundation has raised more than $800 million toward its mission of accelerating research for preventing, treating, and curing blindness caused by the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases including: retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, and Stargardt disease. Visit for more information.

Media Contacts:Chris AdamsVice President, Marketing & Communications[emailprotected] (410) 423-0585

SOURCE Foundation Fighting Blindness

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Kodi Lee Teams up with Foundation Fighting Blindness and Two Blind Brothers for Music to our Eyes Livestream Music Series - PRNewswire


Glaucoma Therapeutics The market is expected to see a surge in growth | Allergan , Merck , Novartis – The Courier

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Glaucoma refers to the group of conditions characterized by optic nerve damage, visual field loss, and secondary to retinal ganglion cell damage, which may lead to death. According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness: 2016, glaucoma is second leading cause of blindness and leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. The most common types of glaucoma are Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) and Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma (PACG). Moreover, PACG is most common in South-East Asian population while POAG is most common in white Caucasians and individuals of African origin. PACG is associated with a high risk of blindness as compared to POAG.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases which result in damage to the optic nerve and cause vision loss. The most common type is open-angle (wide angle, chronic simple) glaucoma, in which the drainage angle for fluid within the eye remains open, with less common types including closed-angle (narrow angle, acute congestive) glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma develops slowly over time and there is no pain. Peripheral vision may begin to decrease, followed by central vision, resulting in blindness if not treated. Closed-angle glaucoma can present gradually or suddenly. The sudden presentation may involve severe eye pain, blurred vision, mid-dilated pupil, redness of the eye, and nausea. Vision loss from glaucoma, once it has occurred, is permanent. Eyes affected by glaucoma are referred to as being glaucomatous.

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Risk factors for glaucoma include increasing age, high pressure in the eye, a family history of glaucoma, and use of steroid medication. For eye pressures, a value of greater than 21 mmHg or 2.8 kPa is often used, with higher pressures leading to a greater risk. However, some may have high eye pressure for years and never develop damage. Conversely, optic nerve damage may occur with normal pressure, known as normal-tension glaucoma. The mechanism of open-angle glaucoma is believed to be slow exit of aqueous humor through the trabecular meshwork, while in closed-angle glaucoma the iris blocks the trabecular meshwork. Diagnosis is by a dilated eye examination.Often, the optic nerve shows an abnormal amount of cupping.

If treated early, it is possible to slow or stop the progression of disease with medication, laser treatment, or surgery. The goal of these treatments is to decrease eye pressure. A number of different classes of glaucoma medication are available. Laser treatments may be effective in both open-angle and closed-angle glaucoma. A number of types of glaucoma surgeries may be used in people who do not respond sufficiently to other measures. Treatment of closed-angle glaucoma is a medical emergency.

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Glaucoma Therapeutics The market is expected to see a surge in growth | Allergan , Merck , Novartis - The Courier


Nyctalopia: All You Need to Know About Night Blindness – News18

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Night blindness, also known as nyctalopia, is a type of vision impairment that makes it difficult to read or see in dim light or at night. It is not a disease itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Although the name suggests blindness during the night, it usually means difficulty in reading or driving in a dusky environment, which can happen any time during the day.

Difficulty to see in a dark room is usually normal but in nyctalopia, it is more strenuous. It can even prevent you from pointing out the stars in the night sky. Night blindness may make it difficult to recognize faces or locate obstacles in a dimly-lit room. Your vision could also take longer than usual to adjust to the transition from darkness to bright light.

Causes of night blindness

Night blindness may be caused by a variety of underlying causes including the following:

Treatment for night blindness

It is important to know the exact cause of the condition for an appropriate intervention to be planned. The treatment for nyctalopia may vary from simply getting a new pair of prescription glasses or switching glaucoma medications to surgery if the cause is cataracts.

A proper balance diet may also be advised if the condition is caused due to a dietary imbalance. Vitamin and mineral requirements may be fulfilled by supplementation, depending on your doctors recommendation. If a retinal disease is discovered, the treatment will be carried out by an ophthalmologist depending on the type and severity of the condition.

Unfortunately, treatment of genetic conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa and Usher syndrome that cause nyctalopia are yet to be developed.

Prevention and precautions

There is no way to prevent night blindness when it is caused by genetic conditions or birth defects. However, in the case of other causes, you can take the following measures to reduce the risk of developing the condition:

For more information, read our article on Night Blindness.

Health articles on News18 are written by, Indias first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

Nyctalopia: All You Need to Know About Night Blindness - News18


RetinalGeniX Has Engaged New York Investor Relations Firm Amato and Partners, LLC – PRNewswire

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

PETALUMA, Calif., Dec. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --RetinalGeniXTM Technologies, Inc. announced today the engagement of Amato and Partnersto provide Investor Relations services. RetinalGeniXTM Technologies is a private California-based medical technology company focused on prevention of blindness through mass medical retinal screening and patient home monitoring.

RetinalGeniX is moving forward with a strategic investor relations plan that will be supported by Amato and Partners. Amato and Partners is an independent Investor Relations firm headquartered in New York City. The firm has a strong and well-recognized brand in the U.S. capital markets. The Amato team has over 40 years of experience developing and executing investor relations programs and a proven track record of achieving results both for private and public companies.

"Amato and Partners provides experienced advice and established Wall Street relationships that will cultivate company visibility with market participants including equity research analysts, investment banks and appropriate potential investors," said Jerry Katzman, M.D., RetinalGeniX's chief executive officer. "We very much look forward to working together."

About RetinalGeniX Technologies, Inc. RetinalGeniX Technologies, Inc. is a privately held emerging medical device company focused on preventing blindness through a cost-effective Mass Retinal Screening Device and a Patient Real-Time Home Monitoring Imaging & Physician Alert System. (A) The Mass Retinal Screening device provides retinal imaging that captures a 200 FOV without pupil dilation and detects the earliest stages of diabetic retinopathy to prevent blindness. This device requires submission to the FDA's 510(k) approval process. (B) RetinalGeniX's second product is RetinalCam, the first in-home, self-monitoring device providing real-time ocular and retinal imaging and streams video to the physician. The technology enables high-risk individuals to send their physician digitized retinal images and streaming video easily from their home. This second device does not require submission to the FDA's 510(k) approval.

Safe Harbor Statement This press release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, statements that relate to the advancement and development of the Mass Retinal Screening Device and a Patient Real-Time Home Monitoring Imaging & Physician Alert Systemand other information that is not historical information. When used herein, words such as "anticipate", "being", "will", "plan", "may", "continue", and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements or information that refer to expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, performance or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions, are forward-looking. All forward-looking statements are based upon RetinalGeniX's current expectations and various assumptions. Voltron believes there is a reasonable basis for its expectations and beliefs, but they are inherently uncertain. RetinalGenix may not realize its expectations, and its beliefs may not prove correct. Actual results could differ materially from those described or implied by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including, without limitation, market conditions. Consequently, forward-looking statements should be regarded solely as RetinalGeniX's current plans, estimates and beliefs. Investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. RetinalGenix cannot guarantee future results, events, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Voltron does not undertake and specifically declines any obligation to update, republish, or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, future events or circumstances or to reflect the occurrences of unanticipated events, except as may be required by law.

Contact:Jerry Katzman, M.D.Chief Executive Officer(415) 578-9583[emailprotected]

SOURCE RetinalGeniX Technologies, Inc.

RetinalGeniX Has Engaged New York Investor Relations Firm Amato and Partners, LLC - PRNewswire


Researchers Discover Clue to How to Protect Neurons and Encourage Their Growth – UC San Diego Health

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Many neurodegenerative conditions, from glaucoma to Alzheimers disease, are characterized by injury to axons the long, slender projections that conduct electrical impulses from one nerve cell to another, facilitating cellular communications. Injury to axons often leads to neuronal impairment and cell death.

Researchers know that inhibiting an enzyme called dual leucine zipper kinase (DLK) appears to robustly protect neurons in a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases models, but DLK also inhibits axonal regeneration. Until now, there have been no effective methods to modify genes to improve both the long-term survival of neurons and promote regeneration.

In a paper published December 14, 2020 in PNAS, a multi-university team led by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health identified another family of enzymes called germinal cell kinase four kinases (GCK-IV kinases) whose inhibition is robustly neuroprotective, while also permitting axon regeneration, making it an attractive therapeutic approach for treating at some neurodegenerative diseases.

We basically figured out that there are a set of genes that, when inhibited, allow optic nerve cells to survive and regenerate, said senior author Derek Welsbie, MD, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology in the Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology at Shiley Eye Institute.

Example of retinal ganglion cells with axons and dendrites in the retina of a healthy eye.

Prior to this work, the field knew how to get these cells to survive, but not regenerate. Conversely, there are ways to promote regeneration, but then the survival was rather modest. Of course, for a successful strategy of vision restoration, you need both and this is a step in that direction.

The researchers conducted a series of screens after first creating retinal ganglion cells (RGC) from human stem cells. RGCs are a type of neuron located near the inner surface of the retina of the eye. They receive visual information from photoreceptors and collectively help transmit that information to the brain.

The first screen involved testing a group of well-studied chemicals to assess their ability to increase the survival of RGCs; the second to measure the ability of chemicals to promote regeneration.

We then used a machine-learning technique to understand why certain compounds were active while others were not and it identified these key genes, said Welsbie.

The discovery that these genes improved RGC survival was not surprising, he said. However, you would have predicted that they (like DLK) would have blocked regeneration when inhibited, not promote regeneration. That was definitely a surprise. It highlights one of the advantages of discovery-based science using high-throughput screening: By testing many agents at once, we can find identify overlooked genes that might not have been thought to play a role.

Welsbie and colleagues focused their work on RGCs because they are interested in optic neuropathies, such as glaucoma. Most people think only about glaucoma in terms of eye pressure, Welsbie said. But eye pressure is only part of the problem. At its core, glaucoma is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive loss of RGCs and their axons, leading to measurable structural and functional damage to the optic nerve, visual impairment and blindness.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 3 million Americans have glaucoma. It is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Welsbie cautioned that its not yet known whether these findings extend to other neuron types, but he noted that the work suggests strong therapeutic possibilities.

Co-authors include: Amit K. Patel, Risa M. Broyer, Cassidy D. Lee, Tianlun Lu, Mai T. Vu, Karl J. Wahlin and Robert N. Weinreb, all at UC San Diego; Mikaela J. Louie, Anna La Torre and Yang Hu, UC Davis; Hassan Al-Ali, John L. Bixby and Vance P. Lemmon, University of Miami; Katherine L. Mitchell and Vinod Jaskula-Ranga and Donald J. Zack, Johns Hopkins University; Xin Duan, UC San Francisco; Santiago Vilar, Truvitech, Miami.

Funding for this research came, in part, from the National Institutes of Health (grant 1RO1EY029342), Research to Prevent Blindness, E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation, Brightfocus Foundation, Fight for Sight Foundation, the Glaucoma Research Foundation Catalyst for the Cure and the Tushinsky family.

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Researchers Discover Clue to How to Protect Neurons and Encourage Their Growth - UC San Diego Health


They thought their gene therapy failed. Instead, it spawned a medical mystery – Endpoints News

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Jos-Alain Sahel was on a rare vacation in Portugal in the spring of 2018 when his phone rang with grim news: The gene therapy he had worked on for a decade, a potential cure for a rare form of blindness, had failed in a pivotal trial.

In the first minute, I was very disappointed, Sahel says. I said, well OK, its not working.

A failed trial in drug development is crushing but not unexpected, a tradeoff of doing business in biology. You examine the full data, go back to the drawing board and either abandon the effort or tweak and try again. Sahel, founder of four companies and the longtime head of the Vision Institute of Paris, was used to the process. But this time, when the full data came, he was bewildered.

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They thought their gene therapy failed. Instead, it spawned a medical mystery - Endpoints News


‘Little House on the Prairie:’ Here’s the Reason Why the Real Mary Ingalls Went Blind – Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Of all the hardships on Little House on the Prairie, this Mary Ingalls (Melissa Sue Anderson) going blind was one of the saddest. When it comes to how the real Mary Ingalls went bind, though, the story is still a little bit muddled.

Heres what we know about the differences between Mary Ingalls blindness in the television series, the novel, and real life.

Shes the eldest of the Ingalls girls. Although shes smart and beautiful, Mary doesnt have it easy. On the television series, Little House on the Prairie, Mary Ingalls falls deathly ill in a two-part episode, needing surgery (To Live With Fear.)

As she got older, this character had dreams of becoming a teacher. After studying for hours by candlelight for the state teachers exam, and complaining that her eyes are tired, Mary gets a shocking piece of news shes going blind.

She completely loses her sight in the two-part episode, Ill Be Waving as You Drive Away. The reason for this, Charles Ingalls is told, is her scarlet fever. After that, Mary Ingalls attends a school for the blind, where she meets her husband, a teacher named Adam.

According to Little House on the Prairies website, though, in real life, Mary Ingalls never married or taught at this school. The reason for her blindness, however, may also different from the television series.

RELATED: Little House on the Prairie: Melissa Gilberts Grandfather Helped Create This Television Comedy Classic

In real life, Mary Ingalls went blind at the age of 14, her parents then sending her to the Iowa School for the Blind. The characters blindness was somewhat delayed in the television series, according to one website, for fear it would limit storyline options.

Even the reason behind Mary Ingalls blindness mightve been altered in different tellings of her story. One scientific journal states that the reason behind permanent blindness caused by scarlet fever is uncertain. It could be a postinfectious autoimmune phenomenon. Its more likely, however, that Mary Ingalls went blind for another reason.

CNN reports that Wilder wrote letters to her daughter, Rose, making reference to some sort of spinal sickness. The letter also mentions that Mary saw a specialist in Chicago who said the nerves of her eyes were paralyzed and there was no hope.

RELATED: Little House On The Prairie: What Is Melissa Gilberts Net Worth and What Is She Working On Now?

Similar to the television series, in the Little House on the Prairie novel, the author tweaks Mary Ingalls illness, making it scarlet fever. This change could be because of the common illnesses of the time period.

According to CNN, it could be because Wilder and her editors thought scarlet fever would be more relatable to her readers. Scarlet fever is mentioned in other books from the period, including Little Women and Frankenstein.

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'Little House on the Prairie:' Here's the Reason Why the Real Mary Ingalls Went Blind - Showbiz Cheat Sheet


Surgical and drug treatment options lead to similar outcomes for diabetic eye disease – National Institutes of Health

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

News Release

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

NIH study finds that some patients need both treatments for long-term improvements in vision

Surgical and injectable drug approaches are equally effective for treatment of bleeding inside the eye from proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), according to a National Eye Institute (NEI)-supported clinical study from the DRCR Retina Network ( A consequence of diabetes, PDR involves the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels in the light-sensing retina. These blood vessels are prone to bleeding into the gel-like vitreous that fills the eye, causing vision loss. NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers compared anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) eye injections versus removal of blood via vitrectomy surgery and laser photocoagulation. Both treatments improved central vision for the majority of participants, although approximately one-third of the participants needed both anti-VEGF injections and surgery. The findings will help guide treatment for people with bleeding in the eye from PDR. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

This clinical trial was an opportunity to compare two commonly used treatments for vitreous hemorrhage from proliferative diabetic retinopathy head-to-head. The results provide useful guidance for clinicians who are managing patients with this condition, said Adam Glassman, Jaeb Center for Health Research, director of the coordinating center.

Vitrectomy surgically removes the blood from inside the eye. To prevent more blood vessels from forming, vitrectomy is usually paired with a laser treatment (laser photocoagulation). This treatment often restores central vision, but the laser treatment may reduce peripheral vision. More recently, NEI-supported trials found that anti-VEGF injections into the eye help control PDR and other diabetic eye complications. These drug treatments decrease the growth of blood vessels in the eye and prevent rebleeds while the blood in the vitreous is being absorbed.

Over the past 15 years, the DRCR Retina Network has performed trials that have helped set the standard of care for diabetic eye disease, said Jennifer Sun, M.D., Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, chair of Diabetes Initiatives for the Network. There have been major advances in surgical technology and technique since the initial studies that evaluated surgical treatment of PDR. This latest DRCR Retina Network study lets us understand how outcomes in the modern era of retinal surgery compare to treatment with intraocular anti-VEGF injections for vitreous hemorrhage from PDR.

In this new clinical study, the DRCR Retina Network team compared these two standard treatments to see if either was more effective in improving visual acuity over two years. Of 205 participants, 100 were assigned an anti-VEGF drug, aflibercept (brand name Eylea), and 105 were assigned prompt vitrectomy and laser photocoagulation. The researchers tracked best corrected visual acuity over two years. At four weeks, visual acuity in the surgery group was significantly higher than the anti-VEGF group, but by 24 weeks, the visual acuity in the anti-VEGF group had caught up to the surgery group. Visual acuity was similar between the two groups out to two years. Approximately one in three participants in each group eventually received both types of treatments to help control their PDR during that time.

This is a very common disease for patients with diabetes particularly after living with diabetes over several decades. For patients who are experiencing visual loss from bleeding due to PDR, these strategies are both excellent treatments and can improve and then preserve visual acuity over six months to two years, said Sun. But there are some subtleties to this study that will help clinicians tailor their treatment plans for an individual patient.

For people with severe bleeds or who need to improve their vision quickly, surgery results in more rapid improvement, Sun said. But for people who cannot receive surgery or prefer to avoid surgery if possible, anti-VEGF treatment still leads to equivalent visual outcomes over the long term.

About a third of our study participants ended up needing both treatments, said Glassman, so we think its critical that people continue to follow up with their clinicians after starting treatment for PDR, because they may need to adjust their treatment along the way to get the best outcome.

An estimated 30 million Americans have diabetes. Blood vessel abnormalities, including the growth of new blood vessels, are common in people with diabetes. PDR can lead to retinal tissue death, permanent vision loss, and eventually blindness in some patients. Prior to the development of surgical and laser treatments to remove blood and regress abnormal blood vessel growth, PDR was a leading cause of blindness in the United States.

The identifier for this study is NCT02858076. The study was supported by NEI and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases through a cooperative agreement (EY14231). Regeneron provided aflibercept for the study and funds to to defray the studys clinical site costs.

NEI leads the federal governments research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs to develop sight-saving treatments and address special needs of people with vision loss. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIHTurning Discovery Into Health

Antoszyk AN, Glassman AR, Beaulieu WT, Jampol LM, Jhaveri CD, Punjabi OS, Salehi-Had H, Wells JA III, Maguire MG, Stockdale CR, Martin DF, and Sun JK, for the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network. Effect of Intravitreous Aflibercept Versus Vitrectomy with Panretinal Photocoagulation on Visual Acuity in Patients with Vitreous Hemorrhage From Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. Dec 15, 2020


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Surgical and drug treatment options lead to similar outcomes for diabetic eye disease - National Institutes of Health


Experimental Therapy Injected in One Eye Unexpectedly Improves Vision in The Other – ScienceAlert

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

In a development that could restore sight to thousands of people with an inheritable condition calledLeber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), scientists have been able to improve vision in both eyes in a majority of patients even though only one eye was actually treated.

The treatment is an experimental type of gene therapy, where tailored genetic material is injected to counteract genes that are defective or malfunctioning. With LHON, a m.11778G>A mutation in the MT-ND4 gene is the target.

In a phase 3 clinical trial, 37 patients were treated with a modified viral vector rAAV2/2-ND4 in one eye only, leading to an average vision improvement of 15 letters on the standard ETDRS chart you might have spotted at an optician's clinic.

"We expected vision to improve in the eyes treated with the gene therapy vector only," says neuro-ophthalmologist Patrick Yu-Wai-Man, from the University of Cambridge.

"Rather unexpectedly, both eyes improved for 78 percent of patients in the trial following the same trajectory over two years of follow-up."

The eyes that didn't get the gene therapy were given a sham treatment instead, and while the improvement wasn't as great, it was still substantial. Those in the earlier stages of LHON typically saw a bigger improvement in their vision from the treatment.

LHON is the most common form of mitochondrial blindness transmitted from a mother to her children and attacks the retinal ganglion cells, damaging the optic nerves. Around 1 in 30,000 people are thought to be affected, usually men in their 20s or 30s.

The replacement MT-ND4 gene treatment seems to rescue the retinal ganglion cells from their fate, causing results that can be "life-changing" according to the researchers. Normally less than 20 percent of those affected get their sight back.

"As someone who treats these young patients, I get very frustrated about the lack of effective therapies," says ophthalmologist Jos-Alain Sahel, from the University of Pittsburgh.

"These patients rapidly lose vision in the course of a few weeks to a couple of months. Our study provides a big hope for treating this blinding disease in young adults."

While scientists know what causes the loss of vision, finding a way to stop it has proved difficult. LHON is a good candidate for gene therapy though, because it has a clear starting stage and genetic targets that are relatively straightforward to hit.

What's not clear yet is why and how the gene therapy is spreading from one eye to the other. Follow-up experiments in macaque monkeys, which have vision systems similar to humans, suggested the injected viral vector can spread to other tissue via some means of interocular diffusion, but more research is going to be needed to understand the mechanisms at work.

Gene therapy is now being used to tackle a wide range of diseases and health issues, including those inherited from parents. Many other eye problems are in the sights of researchers too, and advances in one area can quickly help research in another something that the team behind the current study is excited about.

"Our approach isn't just limited to vision restoration," says Sahel. "Other mitochondrial diseases could be treated using the same technology."

The research has been published in Science Translational Medicine.

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Experimental Therapy Injected in One Eye Unexpectedly Improves Vision in The Other - ScienceAlert


Cell Replacement Therapy A Promising Treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration – Technology Networks

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Lineage Cell Therapeuticsis a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel, off the shelf cell therapies for unmet medical needs. Lineages programs are based on its proprietary cell therapy platform and in-house development and manufacturing capabilities. Their lead program features the manufacture and transplant of retinal pigment epithelium cells for the treatment of dry age-related macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness. The therapy recently completed enrolment in a Phase 1/2a clinical trial.Here we share a Q&A with CEO Brian Culley. In this interview, Brian discusses age-related macular degeneration and retinal pigment epithelium transplant therapy.Q: What is age-related macular degeneration and what is the current treatment landscape?A: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness in adults over the age of 50. Progression of the disease occurs as a result of the death of specialized retina cells in the area of the macula, which gradually leads to a decrease or complete loss of vision, particularly affecting the central vision, which is needed to use a cell phone, recognize faces, drive a car, etc. The causes of AMD are multifactorial and include age, genetics, smoking, and environmental influences. There are two forms of AMD. Dry AMD is the more common of the two types, accounting for approximately 85-90% of cases, while wet AMD is the less common, accounting for approximately 10-15% of cases.Wet AMD, or neovascular macular degeneration, occurs due to an abnormal growth of blood vessels beneath the macula, resulting in spots in the visual field or straight lines appearing wavy to the patient. Unlike dry AMD, which develops slowly, wet AMD can rapidly progress and cause a loss of central vision. There are a number of effective U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatment options available for wet AMD. These treatments are designed to stop the development or growth of blood vessels and are known as antiangiogenic or "anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapies. Anti-VEGF therapies can slow the progression of wet AMD and in some cases improve the patients vision.

In the early to intermediate stages of dry AMD development, retinal cells have died off and as a result, yellow deposits of metabolic waste products known as drusen begin to accumulate in the back of the eye. Drusen can vary in size and number and are considered a natural part of the eyes aging process. However, in dry AMD, the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells are dysfunctional or dying and unable to clear the metabolic waste. Over time, the disease will inevitably progress, sometimes into advanced dry AMD with geographic atrophy (GA), meaning total and irreversible loss of cells in an area. There are currently no FDA or European Medicines Agency approved treatment options for dry AMD. This is likely because dead cells cannot be restored. Humans lack the ability to regenerate retinal tissue and replace lost retina cells which has led to a presumption that progression of GA may someday be slowed or halted but cannot be reversed.Q: Could you tell us about the allogeneic RPE cell replacement therapy Lineage is developing for the treatment of dry AMD with GA?A: One of the most promising potential therapies for advanced dry AMD with GA is cell replacement therapy, because cell therapy means transplanting cells which cannot be generated any other way. Most traditional approaches seek to slow or halt a disease process, but cannot reverse it. Cellular therapies are often aimed at regenerating or replacing absent cells and/or improving bodily functions. Therefore, cellular therapies may be shown to have broader or more suitable applicability than pharmaceuticals in the treatment of advanced dry AMD and other serious diseases. The benefits to the patient include drusen reduction, photoreceptor recovery and preserved or improved sight. At Lineage Cell Therapeutics we are exploring these potential benefits through the clinical development of an RPE cell replacement therapy called OpRegen. OpRegen is a formulation of allogeneic RPE cells, designed to ultimately be used as an off-the-shelf or thaw-and-inject treatment for advanced dry AMD with GA. That means were generating the cells outside of the body from established cell lines. The hypothesis of this therapy is that newly transplanted, healthy RPE cells may replace the patients dead RPE and support dysfunctional or dying RPE that would otherwise continue to progress to death. This is similar to a bone marrow transplant, except it is happening in the eye. The objective of OpRegen therapy is to slow, halt or even reverse the progression of dry AMD with GA. OpRegen is currently in a Phase 1/2a dose escalation safety and efficacy clinical study of a single injection of transplanted cells in patients with advanced dry AMD with GA. The primary objective of the study is to evaluate the safety and tolerability of OpRegen, while secondary objectives are to evaluate the preliminary efficacy of OpRegen treatment by assessing the changes in ophthalmological parameters, such as visual acuity and reading speed.We recently reported evidencefrom a patient with atrophic end-stage disease, who received a transplant of allogeneic RPE cells and showed substantial restoration of retinal tissue within the area of GA. Specifically, the area of GA assessed at 9 months was approximately 25% smaller than the patients pre-treatment baseline and it grew approximately 50% slower than its historical rate during the subsequent six months. This patients area of GA remained below baseline for 23 months and counting. Lineage is not aware of any other company or academic lab which has shown such a dramatic reversal of the disease in a human. These unprecedented findings were initially observed by an independent external advisor using multiple imaging technologies and were subsequently confirmed by the reading center and additional experts in the field of retinal imaging.To our knowledge, this is the first time any experimental treatment for dry AMD has demonstrated a reduction, rather than expansion, of an area of atrophy over a clinically meaningful time period.This finding supports the view that dry AMD is not an irreversible, degenerative condition and that some portion of diseased retinal tissue may be recoverable in atrophic end-stage disease patients.Q: What are the manufacturing capabilities at Lineage, and could you touch on the purity of the RPE cells?A: As we aim to pioneer a new branch of medicine, based on transplanting specific cell types into the body, relying on our competitive advantage of differentiating an unlimited supply of pluripotent stem cells into specialized cell types like retinal cells. Lineage has extensive experience directing the lineage of pluripotent cells into terminally differentiated, specialized cell types and scaling them up in preparation for commercialization. OpRegen cells are greater than 99% pure RPE cells manufactured from a pluripotent cell line that is NIH approved and established 20 plus years ago. The cells have undergone extensive characterization and karyotyping, and there are no genetic modifications made to the RPE cells. Commercial scale-up has already been achieved, with a current production scale of around 5 billion cells per 3-liter bioreactor, or the equivalent of greater than 2,500 clinical doses per batch. Further scale-up can be performed in larger or additional (i.e. parallel) reactors.

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Novartis’ KESTREL Study Reaffirms Positive Results of Beovu in DME – BioSpace

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

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On Tuesday, Novartis announced the first interpretable results from its Phase III KESTREL study of humanized single-chain antibody fragment (scFv) Beovu, demonstrating significant improvement in central subfield thickness in Diabetic Macular Edema (DME).

DME occurs when consistently high blood sugar levels cause damage to small blood vessels in the eye, resulting in an accumulation of leaked fluid, or edema, in the macula, a pigmented area near the center of the eye crucial for the human brain to process light and register a sharp, detailed picture. DME is the leading cause of blindness among young adults in developing nations, 40% of whom have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Beovu (brolucizumab, RTH258), is the most clinically advanced humanized scFv and is currently approved in more than 50 countries, including the U.S. and the EU for the treatment of wet AMD (macular degeneration), a condition that causes blurred vision or a blind spot in the visual field.

According to Suying Dang et al in the journal Hybridoma, single-chain variable fragment of antibody (scFv Ab) provides many advantages over monoclonal antibodies, especially for therapeutic purposes, including enhanced tissue penetration due to their small size and abrogated immunogenicity.

In the KESTREL study, Beovu met the primary endpoint of non-inferiority to aflibercept 2 mg in change in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) at the one-year mark and demonstrated significant improvement at the 6 mg does in the change of central subfield thickness (CST) from baseline between weeks 40 and 52.

The results affirm the positive topline results Novartis announced in September from its pivotal KITE Phase III study of Beovu with DME.

Central subfield thickness [CST] is a key indicator of fluid in the retina, which is an indicator for active disease. For many DME patients, frequent anti-VEGF injections are needed to reduce the fluid in the eye and control the disease. The data from KITE and KESTREL suggest Beovu may have the potential to provide DME patients with better disease management through extended dosing intervals resulting in less overall injections, Dirk Sauer, Global Development Unit Head Opthalmology, told BioSpace.

Beovu also met its secondary endpoint, as more than half of participants in the 6 mg arm were maintained on a three-month dosing interval through year one, after the loading phase. Overall, the study showed that Beovu was well-tolerated.

Novartis is interested in determining whether the same level of efficacy can be achieved with an extended dosing interval. The Phase III KITE and KESTREL trials were designed to show non-inferiority in change from baseline in best-corrected visual acuity. The studies looked at Beovu 6 mg on a flexible dosing regimen, allowing for three and two-month dosing intervals versus aflibercept 2 mg on a two-month dosing interval. More than half of Beovu patients in the 6 mg arm were maintained on a three-month dosing interval through year one, following the loading phase, Sauer said. These data suggest Beovu may have the potential to provide DME patients with better disease management through extended dosing intervals, which could ultimately lead to better treatment adherence.

Sauer also stated that Novartis intends to submit the data from both KITE and KESTREL to health authorities in H1, 2021 and looks forward to working with regulators worldwide to make Beovu available to DME patients in need.

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Novartis' KESTREL Study Reaffirms Positive Results of Beovu in DME - BioSpace


Washington National Cathedral will toll its bells 300 times starting at 5 pm "in memory of the 300000 Americans who have died of COVID-19."…

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Photo by Brandon Kopp

From an email:

Washington National Cathedral will toll its bells 300 times on Tuesday, Dec. 15 starting at 5 p.m. ET, in memory of the 300,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19.

The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, the Cathedrals dean, also released this statement:

We have reached the point in America where the death toll from COVID-19 for just one day was the equivalent of 16 fully loaded 737 jets falling from the sky.

Think about that. We would never allow that kind of disaster to take place day after day in this country, and we certainly would never allow such tragedy to become normal or expected. And yet, the climbing death toll from this pandemic seems disturbingly routine. How awful that is.

As the Cathedral marks 300,000 lives lost to COVID-19, I have grown weary of tolling this bell. I dont want to toll this bell any more. I dont want to lose any more lives. I dont want us to think this is normal, or that it is just the price we must pay for living in a free society. God forgive us if we find ourselves tolling this bell again at 400,000 lives lost.

The Christian faith teaches that each person is a beloved child of God, and that my well-being is deeply connected to your well-being. We are not lone individuals free from responsibility; rather, we are dependent upon one another for our very lives and commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.

There are simple things we can do wear a mask, keep our distance, adjust our holiday plans to show our mutual respect and concern for one another. Yes, we are tired from the confines and struggles of this pandemic, and yes, its been a long nine months. But now, more than ever, we have to protect each other because there has been far too much death. A vaccine is coming and we will get through these difficult days, but we will only succeed if we do it together.

Lord, in your mercy, heal us from this disease. Remove the blindness from our eyes that keeps us from seeing your face in our neighbor. Soften our hearts, give us strength to endure and the will to act for the common good.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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Washington National Cathedral will toll its bells 300 times starting at 5 pm "in memory of the 300000 Americans who have died of COVID-19."...


Insights on the Vision Care Global Market to 2025 – Increase in Uptake of a New Generation of Contacts Lenses is Driving Growth – PRNewswire

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

DUBLIN, Dec. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The "Vision Care: Global Markets" report has been added to's offering.

The current report provides a detailed analysis of the vision care devices market. This report will highlight the current and future market potential of vision care devices along and provide a detailed analysis of the competitive landscape. The report covers market projections for 2025 along with current market estimates. Epidemiology trends of major eye disorders, drivers, restraints, and opportunities will also be covered in the current report along with company profiles of the key market players.

The report segments the market for vision care devices based on device, distribution channel, and geography. Based on device type, the market is broadly segmented into eyeglasses, contact lenses, intraocular lenses (IOLs), and artificial tears. Eyeglasses are further segmented into a single vision, bifocal and progressive. Contact lenses are further segmented into spherical lenses, toric lenses, multifocal contact lenses, and others. For market estimates, data will be provided for 2019 as the base year, with estimates for 2020 and forecast values for 2025.

By geography, the market has been segmented into North America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa. Detailed analysis of major countries such as the U.S., Canada, Germany, the U.K., Italy, France, Spain, Japan, China, India, Australia, Brazil, and Mexico will be covered in the regional segments.

The Report Includes:

Market growth is attributed to factors such as the growing prevalence of blindness and vision impairment, a rise in the world's geriatric population, and growing collaborations between vision care companies and technology companies for the advent of technologically advanced products to address current unmet needs.

According to the IAPB, nearly 1.1 billion people are considered to be affected by some form of vision loss: 43 million people are categorized as blind, about 553 million people are estimated to suffer from some form of moderate to severe visual impairment (MVSI), about 258 million people experience mild vision impairment and about 510 million suffer from near vision impairment. In addition, at least 1 billion more people need ongoing access to eye care services. High prevalence and the increasing burden of vision impairment is likely to drive the vision care market during the forecast period.

Reasons for Doing This Study:

Visual impairment is a global health concern that has a negative impact on both physical and mental wellbeing. Preventive blindness, a common vision disorder, represents a major challenge to the global healthcare system. Visual impairment is associated with loss of global productivity and high disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and is responsible for significant healthcare spending. According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), in 2020, nearly 1.1 billion people were considered to be affected by some form of vision loss; 43 million people are categorized as blind, about 553 million people are estimated to suffer from some form of Moderate and Severe Vision Impairment MSVI, about 258 million people experience mild vision impairment and about 510 million suffer from near vision impairment. In addition, at least 1 billion more people need ongoing access to eye care services.

Globally, the leading causes of vision impairment are uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts. Refractory disorders, particularly myopia, are one of the common ailments seen across all age groups. The incidence of refractory disorders is estimated to have doubled in the last decade compared to past generations, with the rise driven by rapid changes in lifestyles, genetic disorders, and malnutrition. Refractory disorders, although increasingly prevalent, can be treated and are considered preventable ailments if addressed quickly.

Market growth has been spurred by the introduction of technologically advanced products and the rise in the global visually impaired population. This report is designed to provide the reader with a background on vision care products, an analysis of the current factors influencing the market, and the tools to make decisions regarding expansion and penetration in this market.

Key Topics Covered:

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Summary and Highlights

Chapter 3 Clinical Overview

Chapter 4 Epidemiological Insights

Chapter 5 Supply Chain Overview

Chapter 6 Vision Care Market Dynamics

Chapter 7 Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Vision Care Market

Chapter 8 Market Breakdown by Product Type

Chapter 9 Market Breakdown by Region

Chapter 10 Competitive Landscape

Chapter 11 Company Profiles

Chapter 12 Appendix: Acronyms

For more information about this report visit

Research and Markets also offers Custom Research services providing focused, comprehensive and tailored research.

Media Contact:

Research and Markets Laura Wood, Senior Manager [emailprotected]

For E.S.T Office Hours Call +1-917-300-0470 For U.S./CAN Toll Free Call +1-800-526-8630 For GMT Office Hours Call +353-1-416-8900

U.S. Fax: 646-607-1907 Fax (outside U.S.): +353-1-481-1716

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Cell and Gene Therapy Global Market Report 2020-30: COVID-19 Growth and Change – GlobeNewswire

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

New York, Dec. 15, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- announces the release of the report "Cell and Gene Therapy Global Market Report 2020-30: COVID-19 Growth and Change" -

The global cell and gene therapy market is expected to decline from $6.68 billion in 2019 to $6.92 billion in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.61%. The slow growth is mainly due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has led to restrictive containment measures involving social distancing, remote working, and the closure of industries and other commercial activities resulting in operational challenges. The entire supply chain has been disrupted, impacting the market negatively. The market is then expected to recover and reach $13.23 billion in 2023 at a CAGR of 24.10%.

The cell and gene therapy market consists of sales of cell and gene therapies by entities (organizations, sole traders and partnerships) that develop cell and gene therapies. Cell therapy refers to the transfer of intact, live cells that are originated from autologous or allogenic sources and gene therapy refers to the introduction, removal, or change in the genome for treating diseases. The market consists of revenue generated by the companies developing cell and gene therapy products by the sales of these products.

North America was the largest region in the cell and gene therapy market in 2019. It is also expected to be the fastest-growing region in the forecast period.

In December 2019, Roche, a Swiss multinational healthcare company, acquired Spark Therapeutics for $4.3 billion. The acquisition supports the commitment of Roche to bring transformational therapies and innovative approaches to people with serious illnesses. Spark Therapeutics will continue to work within the Roche Group as an independent company. Spark Therapeutics, headquartered in Philadelphia, is a fully integrated commercial company involved in the discovery, production, and distribution of gene therapies for genetic disorders including blindness, hemophilia, lysosomal storage, and neurodegenerative diseases.

The cell and gene therapy market covered in this report is segmented by product into cell therapy; gene therapy and by application into oncology; dermatology; musculoskeletal; others.

Limited reimbursements preventing patients from receiving treatments are expected to limit the growth of cell and gene therapy (CGT market. In 2019, Trinity Life Sciences, a life sciences solution provider, researched national and large regional commercial health insurance plans in the US. It found that the confluence of increasing price, patient volume and number of CGTs on the market is likely to change the reimbursement model for CGTs and impact payer budgets by 5-10%. Payers realize that financing needs to be generated for cost management due to the uncertainty surrounding reimbursement of ancillary costs. Limited reimbursements and uncertain insurance plans are preventing patients from receiving high-cost CGT, which is expected to limit market growth.

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is shaping the cell and gene therapy (CGT) market. (CAR) T-cell therapy is a combination of cell and gene therapy in which T cells are collected from the patients blood and are genetically engineered to produce modified receptors at their surface, known as chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). These modified T cells with special structures (receptors) are reinfused into the patient. Then, the modified receptors of T cell help in targeting the surface antigen of the cancer cell that ultimately results in the killing of tumor cells in patients. In 2020, the US-FDA approved Bristol-Myers Squibbs two CAR-T cell therapies to treat lymphoma and multiple myeloma and is set to be launched. Currently, FDA approved CAR-T cell therapy treatments like Tisagenlecleucel for the treatment of B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children and Axicabtagene ciloleucel for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma.

Steady investment and consolidation in cell and gene therapies contributed to the growth of the cell and gene therapy (CGT) market. After recognizing the potential of the CGT market, 16 out of the 20 largest biopharma companies by revenue, added CGT products to their portfolio. For instance, Merck invested $109 million in viral vector and gene therapy manufacturing in April 2020. Moreover, 12% of industrial clinical pipeline products and at least 16% of preclinical pipeline products consist of CGT. Steady investment and consolidation in CGT production capacity led to an increase in production capacity and also contributed to the growth of the market.Read the full report:

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Brothers launch clothing line to fund research for a cure to blindness – The Week

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

Through their Two Blind Brothers clothing line, Bryan and Bradford Manning aim to dress people in stylish yet comfortable clothing while also funding research to cure degenerative eye conditions.

The Manning brothers were both diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a rare genetic eye disorder that can cause blindness, when they were kids. Bryan told People that when you are blind, "the one thing you learn quickly is trust. You have to put these little moments of trust in people, like the trust that a cab driver will drop you off in the right corner, a waiter will give you a good meal recommendation, or you'll get the right change from a cashier because you can't see for yourself."

Bryan and Bradford launched Two Blind Brothers in 2016 so their customers could trust them they sell mystery boxes that are filled with different items, such as hoodies, sunglasses, and socks, which have braille stitched into them. Proceeds benefit organizations like the Foundation for Fighting Blindness, and so far, the brothers have raised more than $750,000.

Two Blind Brothers is more than a clothing line it's also a lifeline. Bryan and Bradford regularly speak with people who were just diagnosed with eye conditions, as well as parents whose children are dealing with eye disorders. "Bryan and I didn't have people around us growing up with this condition," Bradford told People. "The opportunity to make someone with vision impairment or blindness feel better about themselves and live their lives, that drives us." Catherine Garcia

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Saturday, December 12th, 2020

The Impending Blindness of Billie ScottBy Zoe ThorogoodAvery Hill Publishing

Is it art without humanity? Thats probably an unanswerable question and certainly, plenty of arguments exist that fall firmly on the side of it doesnt matter or humanity is not a pre-existing necessity for anything, but The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott certainly falls on the side of advocating for a human component to art. Its not likely to change your view, but it will offer an engaging street drama in its attempt, while it posits some big ideas about how art is made and what gives it depth and growth.

Billie Scott is a young woman who lives in shared housing, but keeps to herself, holing up in her room and focusing on honing her art at the cost of human relations and, indeed, being out in the world. Two major events slam her at the same time she has the opportunity for her first gallery show and has to create a body of work in a limited amount of time, but she also finds out that some vision problems shes recently encountered point to impending blindness.

These would seem to be working against each other, but Billie is inspired to seize the moment and takes off on a road trip with the goal of painting 10 portraits of 10 people. This is brought on by an unexpected bonding session with the housemates she previously ignored and the realization that shes been so focused on putting her art first that shes cut herself off from life. Creating the 10 portraits is her opportunity at one last chance of living life while she still has eyesight.

The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott is the debut graphic novel by Zoe Thorogood, who creates a fully-realized street-level world for Billie Scott to inhabit along with a variety of new acquaintances. Thorogood has a scrappy art style and in a strange way, it reminds me of British comics from 30 years ago, the sort of style that might have appeared in 2000 AD, maybe reminiscent of Tank Girl. The subject matter is the exact opposite, but this stylistic connection in my brain added to the tone of the book.

I dont have to tell you and you probably dont have to ask Billies journey is going to be transformative. The beauty of the book doesnt lie in the prospect of there being any other outcome, but in the way that inevitable outcome happens and in the real revelation of the book. Art is not created by playing it safe, and yet that is what Billie has done all her life by living cloistered and focused. She created a world in which it was safe to make her art unimpeded and it was safe to follow her creative track without challenges.

But art is a lot like life, and its by allowing yourself to encounter the unknown that either becomes enriching, partly because thats when you learn new things and find new ways to look at the old things, but also because it can require creative solutions and thats the situation where most people meet failure. Billie Scott has spent her life fearing failure but when confronted by impending blindness she realizes that you eventually encounter the unknown whether you do so intentionally or not. Her 10-portrait project becomes a crash-course in facing the unknown and rising to the challenges it pushes at her.

The irony is that such a venture will also push her art further just as she loses a crucial aspect of creating it. But thats another point in what Billie does shes going to need guile in order to find a new way to express herself. Thats her challenge. But shes also going to require community. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott shows that the adventure of life and the adventure of art as well as the connections each can build are impossible to separate. And theres no reason anyone should want to.


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WEB EXTRA: A list of illnesses that lead to vision loss or blindness, tips to prevent them – KLAS – 8 News Now

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) Many think blindness is an illness that people are either born with or a condition that a person experiences after an accident.

8 News Now spoke with Dr. Brian Alder, an Ophthalmologist and Corneal Specialist at Shepherd Eye Center to explain and list the illnesses that can lead to blindness. Dr. Alder says some of the illnesses that lead to blindness are developed over time and completely preventable.




Cataracts: Dr. Alder says that while cataract patients in the US have access to treatment that can address this issue, in other countries it is one of the leading causes of blindness. Dr. Alder says cataract surgery can easily fix the condition that causes his patients to lose significant vision.

Macular Degeneration: The center of the patients retina deteriorates. Dr. Alder says there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the loss of vision if you have this condition.

Glaucoma: A condition that damages the optic nerve which is vital for good vision, can be treated. Dr. Alder says an eye exam can help to uncover this condition and with proper treatment, patients can avoid the complications of severe vision loss or blindness.

Dr. Alder says some glaucoma patients have no symptoms so he recommends that even if your eyes seem fine to schedule an eye exam. An eye exam can reveal high eye pressure that will eventually cause slow vision loss. With Glaucoma, Dr. Alder says you can have no blurriness in your central vision but have significant vision loss in your peripheral vision until you experience tunnel vision.

Dr. Alder says these three common eye conditions all develop over time and with regular eye checks and treatment all can be avoided to preserve your vision.

In addition to getting an exam and following the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor, you can take care of your eyes by:

For more information please visit the website Academy of Ophthalmology at

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Hyderabad Doc Who Returned From US to Help the Blind Wins $3 Million Global Prize – The Better India

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

The LV Prasad Eye Institute was chosen for the Greenberg Prize End Blindness 2020, and the Outstanding Achievement award will be presented to its founder, Dr Gullapalli Nageswara Rao.

LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), a World Health Organisation (WHO) collaborating centre for the prevention of blindness, is a comprehensive eye health facility headquartered in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Recently, it was chosen for the Greenberg Prize End Blindness 2020 and the Outstanding Achievement award, which will be presented to its founder Dr Gullapalli Nageswara Rao.

The purpose of the Greenberg Prize is to create a worldwide research community that will contribute its collective skills and resources to end blindness. The winners are chosen based on the strength of their contributions towards this goal and are awarded prize money of $3 million.

LVPEI, with 3 tertiary, 20 secondary and 184 primary care centres, has benefitted more than 15 million patients in India. Here are some things you should know about Dr Rao:

Dr Rao decided to become an Ophthalmologist because he wanted to follow the footsteps of his father, who was a legendary doctor named Govindappa Venkataswamy and the founder of Aravind Eye Hospital, Chennai.

After completing his basic medical education in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, Dr Rao completed his postgraduate residency training in Ophthalmology at the All India Institute for Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. In 1974, he went to the United States of America where he trained at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. Then, he trained and taught for a while at the Rochester School of Medicine.

Apart from training abroad, Dr Rao was also a visiting professor at several universities in the USA, Europe, Australia and Asia. His areas of specialisation include diseases of the cornea, eye banking, corneal transplantation, eye care policy and planning.

Till date, Dr Rao has published more than 300 papers in national and international journals and has served on the editorial boards of several journals.

In 1981, Dr Rao and his wife returned to India. In an interview with Factor Daily, he says that he decided to return to India because he wanted to build an eye centre that would encompass patient care, education, and research, in Hyderabad.

After he returned, he donated all his savings to ophthalmic corporations, and he approached the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh NT Rama Rao to provide him land to establish an educational institute. The land allotted by the CM was used to open the public health and optometric education department.

In 1985, he further received Rs 5 crores and 5 acres of land from Ramesh Prasad, the son of popular movie director LV Prasad after which he launched the LV Prasad Eye Institute.

The former secretary-general and later the CEO of the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) played a pivotal role in developing and fostering the global initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness along with WHO.

In 2002, he was honoured by the Government of India with the fourth highest Indian civilian award Padma Shri.

In 2017, Dr Rao was inducted into the Ophthalmology Hall of Fame at the meeting of American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) in Los Angeles. In the past three centuries, only 57 ophthalmologists from around the world have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

During an interview with Forbes magazine, Dr Rao shares that when KR Narayanan, the former President of India, developed a cataract, his secretary, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, asked for his opinion. Though the first citizen of India was recommended surgery, Dr Rao did not do it himself because he had stopped operating after he turned 55. When the Presidents secretary asked him to do them a favour and conduct the operation himself, Dr Rao reportedly replied with I am doing you a favour by not operating on him.

On being awarded the Greenberg Prize, Dr Rao said, I feel humbled and honoured to accept this prestigious award on behalf of the 3000-strong family of LVPEI. Eliminating avoidable blindness by the year 2020 has been an aspiration of the global eye care community for over two decades.

According to news reports, the Greenberg Prize awards ceremony will be live-streamed at 5:30 IST on 15 December 2020, and the link can be found on the official website.

(Edited by Yoshita Rao)

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Hyderabad Doc Who Returned From US to Help the Blind Wins $3 Million Global Prize - The Better India


Researchers Say We’re Watching The World Go Blind – Newswise

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

Newswise As the global population grows and ages, so does their need for eye care. But according to two new studies published inThe Lancet Global Health, these needs arent being met relative to international targets to reduce avoidable vision loss.

As 2020 comes to a close, an international group of researchers set out toprovide updated estimates on the number of people that are blind or visually impaired across the globe, to identify the predominant causes, and to illustrate epidemiological trends over the last 30 years.

This is important because when we think about setting a public health agenda, knowing the prevalence of an impairment, what causes it, and where in the world its most common informs the actions that key decision makers like the WHO and ministries of health take to allocate limited resources, saysJoshua Ehrlich, M.D., M.P.H., a study author and ophthalmologist atKellogg Eye Center.

The study team assesses a collection of secondary data every five years, undertaking a meta-analysis of population-based surveys of eye disease assembled by the Vision Loss Expert Group and spanning from 1980 to 2018.

A study like this poses challenges since regional populations vary in age.

For example, the population in some Asian and European countries is much older on average than the population in many African nations. Many populations are also growing older over time. A direct comparison of the percentage of the population with blindness or vision impairment wouldnt paint a complete picture says Ehrlich, who is also a member ofUniversity of Michigans Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, explains.

To address this issue, the study looked at age-standardized prevalence, accomplished by adjusting regional populations to fit a standard age structure.

We found that the age-standardized prevalence is decreasing around the world, which tells us eye care systems and quality of care are getting better, says study authorMonte A. Del Monte, M.D., a pediatric ophthalmologist at Kellogg Eye Center. However, as populations age, a larger number of people are being affected by serious vision impairment, suggesting we need to improve accessibility to care and further develop human resources to provide care.

In fact, the researchers found that there wasnt any significant reduction in the number of people with treatable vision loss in the last ten years, which paled in comparison to the World Health Assembly Global Action Plan target of a 25% global reduction of avoidable vision loss in this same time frame.

Although findings varied by region globally,cataracts and the unmet need for glasses were the most prevalent causes of moderate to severe vision impairment.Approximately 45% of the 33.6 million cases of global blindness were caused by cataracts, which can be treated with surgery.

Refractive error,which causes a blurred image resulting from an abnormal shape of the cornea and lens not bending light correctly, accounted for vision loss in 86 million people across the globe. This largest contributor to moderate or severely impaired vision can be easily treated with glasses.

Also important, vision impairment due to diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that affects eyesight, was found to have increased in global prevalence.

This is another condition in which we can prevent vision loss with early screenings and intervention, says study authorAlan L. Robin, M.D., a collaborating ophthalmologist at Kellogg Eye Center and professor at Johns Hopkins Medicine. As diabetes becomes more common across the globe, this condition may begin to affect younger populations, as well.

Working as a global eye care community, we need to now look at the next 30 years, Ehrlich says. We hope to take these findings and create implementable strategies with our global partners through ourKellogg Eye Center for International Ophthalmologyso fewer people go blind unnecessarily.

In an effort to contribute to the WHO initiativeVISION 2020: The Right to Sight, the researchers updated estimates of the global burden of vision loss and provided predictions for what the year 2050 may look like.

They found thatthe majority of the 43.9 million people blind globally are women. Women also make up the majority of the 295 million people who have moderate to severe vision loss, the 163 million who have mild vision loss and the 510 million who have visual impairments related to the unmet need for glasses, specifically poor near vision.

By 2050, Ehrlich, Del Monte, and Robin predict 61 million people will be blind, 474 million will have moderate and severe vision loss, 360 million will have mild vision loss and 866 million will have visual impairments related to farsightedness.

Eliminating preventable blindness globally isnt keeping pace with the global populations needs, Ehrlich says. We face enormous challenges in treating and preventing vision impairment as the global population grows and ages, but Im optimistic of a future where we will succeed because of the measures we take now to make a difference.

Both studies were funded by Brien Holden Vision Institute, Fondation Tha, Fred Hollows Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Sightsavers International and the University of Heidelberg.

Papers Cited:Causes of blindness and vision impairment in 2020 and trends over 30 years, and prevalence of avoidable blindness in relation to VISION 2020: the Right to Sight: an analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study,The Lancet Global Health. DOI:10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30489-7

Trends in prevalence of blindness and distance and near vision impairment over 30 years: an analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study,The Lancet Global Health. DOI:10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30425-3

More here:
Researchers Say We're Watching The World Go Blind - Newswise


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