[aarontech] Re: giving blind people their sight?

  • From: "Michael Grunze" <MT-Grunze@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <aarontech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 6 May 2008 23:41:09 -0500

Acording to one article I read they can recognize people across a room. I would kill for that in an area that's loud like the bars here. Color, I dated a girl who loved to draw. I'd love to see color. Plus, you could still use the skills you have in conjunction with sight, I have light perception and I use it all the time. You don't lose anything, you gain a ton.

----- Original Message ----- From: "rich maroney" <mumralives@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <aarontech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 11:35 PM
Subject: [aarontech] Re: giving blind people their sight?

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
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
and not having any problems walking at all.

-----Original Message-----
From: 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


The Associated Press

Sunday, April 27, 2008; 5:36 PM




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

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
read a few lines of an eye chart within weeks.

"It's a phenomenal breakthrough," said Stephen Rose, chief research
of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which helped pay for one study done
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

"I think this is incredibly exciting," said Dr. Jean Bennett, a professor
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

The two teams of scientists, working separately, each tested gene
replacement therapy in three patients with a form of a rare hereditary
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
a setback with the 1999 death of Jesse Gelsinger, 18, in an experiment

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,
experts said.

"I think it's really a big shot in the arm for gene therapy and for
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
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

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
College London, who led the British team. He likened the defective gene

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
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
comparison. After the treatment, their eyesight and light sensitivity
measured periodically; mobility was tested in a maze or an obstacle

All three of those treated in Philadelphia showed significant improvement
their vision, the researchers said. The volunteers _ two women, 19 and
and a man, 26 _ were from Italy, where they had been screened by
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
getting around in the dark, according to remarks issued by the

"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.
was better after a week, and his eyesight gradually improved. He was able
negotiate a dimly lit maze in 14 seconds without bumping into any
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
his eyesight. The researchers think the hole was related to the surgery
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
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
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
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


AP Science Writer Malcolm Ritter contributed to this report.


On the Net:

New England Journal of Medicine:  <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

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