Blind Mice Given Sight – Solution for macular degeneration?

A scene as it might be viewed by a person with...

A scene as it might be viewed by a person with age-related macular degeneration. Description: A scene as it might be viewed by a person with age-related macular degeneration. Credit: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health Ref#: EDS05 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some good news for those with macular degeneration.

Excerpt: The technology moves prosthetics beyond bright light and high-contrast recognition and may be adopted for human use within a year or two, said Sheila Nirenberg, a neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and the study’s lead author. 

“What this shows is that we have the essential ingredients to make a very effective prosthetic,” Nirenberg said. Researchers haven’t yet tested the approach on humans, though have assembled the code for monkeys, she said. 

Once the researchers determined the code the mouse retina used to communicate with the brain, they were able to mimic it with electric-signal sending glasses, Nirenberg said. Previous prosthetics have used less-specific stimulation and proved inherently limited as a result, she said.

About 20 million people worldwide are blind or facing blindness due to retinal degenerative diseases, such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. The disorders cause a progressive loss of the retina’s input cells, or photoreceptors. 

No foreseeable barriers should stop the movement into humans now that the technology has been created, Oliva said. Nirenberg said that if researchers can come up with adequate cash to fund clinical trials, she hopes to soon adapt the technology.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people older than 55 in the western world and may triple in incidence by 2025 according to a 2009 report by the American Optometric Society. Retinal diseases could find a “reasonable solution” in the technology, saidJonathan Victor, a professor in the department of neurology and neuroscience at Weill who was familiar with, but not involved in the research.
“It’s a major step, it’s elegant, and it works,” he said.

Read full report here.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s