[aarontech] Re: giving blind people their sight?

  • From: "rich maroney" <mumralives@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <aarontech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 7 May 2008 00:35:06 -0400

I'm not sure what you mean, "worth a bit of work". Personally I have no
problems navigating new areas. Colors, ehh, I wouldn't mind having to label
my shirts to tell them apart, but I get by. I really don't think the people
who received this treatment can tell that much to recognize a face just yet.
I'm not saying this is a bad thing, having a cure for blindness, rather I
find it funny that they'd show a person with limited sight struggling to
travel and herald it as amazing, and then immediately show a competent blind
person with a cane traveling with ease. As if just being able to see a tiny
bit is better than having to use the cane.

-----Original Message-----
From: aarontech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:aarontech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Michael Grunze
Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 12:32 AM
To: aarontech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [aarontech] Re: giving blind people their sight?

But color, recognizing people without needing to hear their voice, not being

dependent on people in a new location, that's worth a bit of work, isn't it?


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "rich maroney" <mumralives@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <aarontech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 11:25 PM
Subject: [aarontech] Re: giving blind people their sight?


> Heh, I saw this story on CNN the other day. They were showing clips of the
> people navigating the obstacle course, taking baby steps and staring
> intensely at the ground,  scanning. Then they showed a blind man, who I
> happen to know, walking with a cane with no problems. Just seems funny 
> that
> they  herald the patients amazing ability to read the top two lines of an
> eye chart, while at the same time showing another blind person using a 
> cane
> and not having any problems walking at all.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: aarontech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
> [mailto:aarontech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
> On Behalf Of Valiant8086 (on laptop)
> Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 12:18 AM
> To: aarontech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [aarontech] giving blind people their sight?
>
> Forwarded from the blind cool tech mailing list.
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Neal Ewers" <neal.ewers@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: "Bct" <bct@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 2:18 PM
> Subject: [BCT] OT, giving blind people their sight?
>
>
>> Gene therapy experiments improve vision in nearly blind
>>
>> By STEPHANIE NANO
>>
>> The Associated Press
>>
>> Sunday, April 27, 2008; 5:36 PM
>>
>>
>>
>
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/27/AR200804270
>> 1>
>>
>
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/27/AR2008042701
>>
>> 326_pf.html
>>
>>
>>
>> NEW YORK -- Scientists for the first time have used gene therapy to
>> dramatically improve sight in people with a rare form of blindness, a
>> development experts called a major advance for the experimental 
>> technique.
>>
>> Some vision was restored in four of the six young people who got the
>> treatment, teams of researchers in the United States and Britain reported
>> Sunday. Two of the volunteers who could only see hand motions were able 
>> to
>> read a few lines of an eye chart within weeks.
>>
>> "It's a phenomenal breakthrough," said Stephen Rose, chief research
>> officer
>> of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which helped pay for one study done
>> at
>> Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
>>
>> If successful in larger numbers, experts said, the technique has the
>> potential to reverse blindness from other kinds of inherited eye 
>> diseases.
>>
>> "I think this is incredibly exciting," said Dr. Jean Bennett, a professor
>> of
>> ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania and a leader of the
>> Philadelphia study. "It's the beginning of a whole new phase of studies."
>>
>> The research was published online Sunday by the New England Journal of
>> Medicine in conjunction with presentations at a medical meeting in
>> Florida.
>>
>> The two teams of scientists, working separately, each tested gene
>> replacement therapy in three patients with a form of a rare hereditary 
>> eye
>> disease called Leber's congenital amaurosis. There's no treatment for the
>> disease, which appears early in infancy and causes severe vision loss,
>> especially at night.
>>
>> An estimated 2,000 Americans have the form of the disease they targeted,
>> Bennett said.
>>
>> Gene therapy _ replacing faulty genes with a normal version _ has been
>> studied in humans for over 15 years with limited success. The field
>> suffered
>> a setback with the 1999 death of Jesse Gelsinger, 18, in an experiment 
>> for
>
>> a
>> liver disorder at Penn. And some children treated for an immune disorder
>> called the "bubble boy disease" later developed leukemia.
>>
>> The early results of the eye experiments should give the field a boost,
>> some
>> experts said.
>>
>> "I think it's really a big shot in the arm for gene therapy and for
>> medicine
>> in general," said Dr. Ronald Crystal, head of genetic medicine at Weill
>> Cornell Medical College in New York.
>>
>> Each of the study participants had mutations in a gene that makes a
>> protein
>> needed by the retina, which senses light and sends images to the brain.
>>
>> Those without the gene gradually lose sight until they are blind in early
>> adulthood.
>>
>> The retina itself stays in relatively good shape for a while, making it a
>> good candidate for gene therapy, said Robin Ali, a professor at 
>> University
>> College London, who led the British team. He likened the defective gene 
>> to
>
>> a
>> missing spark plug in a car engine.
>>
>> "The whole engine can be absolutely fine, but if it doesn't have a spark
>> plug, the car's not going to work," said Ali.
>>
>> For the experiment, the scientists injected millions of copies of a
>> working
>> gene beneath the retina in the back of the eye. Only one eye was treated 
>> _
>> the worst one _ in case anything went wrong; the untreated eye was used
>> for
>> comparison. After the treatment, their eyesight and light sensitivity 
>> were
>> measured periodically; mobility was tested in a maze or an obstacle
>> course.
>>
>> All three of those treated in Philadelphia showed significant improvement
>> in
>> their vision, the researchers said. The volunteers _ two women, 19 and 
>> 26,
>> and a man, 26 _ were from Italy, where they had been screened by
>> researchers
>> there. The longest follow-up was six months.
>>
>> Besides reading lines on an eye chart, they could see better in dim lit,
>> Bennett said.
>>
>> "We were not expecting to restore their vision to 20/20," she said.
>>
>> In the British group, the treatment only worked in 18-year-old Steven
>> Howarth, whose disease was less advanced than the other two _ a girl, 17;
>> and a man, 23, who was followed for a year.
>>
>> Howarth said he used to rush home from school because he was worried 
>> about
>> getting around in the dark, according to remarks issued by the 
>> university.
>>
>> "Now, my sight when it's getting dark or it's badly lit is definitely
>> better. It's a small change _ but it makes a big difference to me," said
>> Howarth, who lives in Bolton, near Manchester.
>>
>> After the injection last July, Howarth said his eye felt like sandpaper.
>> It
>> was better after a week, and his eyesight gradually improved. He was able
>> to
>> negotiate a dimly lit maze in 14 seconds without bumping into any
>> obstacles;
>> before it took him 77 seconds with eight errors.
>>
>> There were no serious side effects reported in either group. One of the
>> patients in Philadelphia developed a hole in his retina which didn't
>> affect
>> his eyesight. The researchers think the hole was related to the surgery
>> and
>> not the injected gene.
>>
>> The researchers said there was no evidence that the altered virus used to
>> ferry the gene into the retina's cells had traveled outside the eye to
>> other
>> areas of the body.
>>
>> The groups have each treated a fourth patient, including a preteen in
>> England. The researchers hope to see better results with higher doses and
>> in
>> younger patients with less eye damage.
>>
>> The National Eye Institute is funding a third similar study at the
>> University of Florida.
>>
>> The research in Philadelphia and London was paid for by a variety of
>> government agencies and private foundations. An employee of Targeted
>> Genetics Corp., which made the altered virus used in London, is a
>> co-author
>> of their report. Four of the Philadelphia researchers, including Bennett,
>> have either applied for or have patents related to gene therapy. Ali and
>> another British researcher have also applied for a patent for the
>> procedure.
>>
>> ___
>>
>> AP Science Writer Malcolm Ritter contributed to this report.
>>
>> ___
>>
>> On the Net:
>>
>> New England Journal of Medicine:  <http://www.nejm.org/>
>> http://www.nejm.org
>>
>> National Eye Institute:  <http://www.nei.nih.gov/> http://www.nei.nih.gov
>>
>>
>> Neal Ewers
>> Ravenswood Productions
>> Madison Wisconsin
>> Local phone: 608-277-1995
>> Toll Free: 888-544-8332
>> email: neal.ewers@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> Web: http://ravenswood.org <http://ravenswood.org/>
>> FTP site: ftp://ftp.ravenswood.org <ftp://ftp.ravenswood.org/>
>> Skype name:  neal163
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> BCT mailing list
>> BCT@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> http://lists.blind-planet.com/listinfo.cgi/bct-blind-planet.com
>>
>>
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