Bascom Palmer doctors explain new eye surgeries

January 31, 2010

The Palm Beach Daily News reports on two procedures developed at the Bascon Palmer Eye Institute to cure severe eye damage.

A corneal replacement made from the patient’s own tooth.

A retinal implant created from the patient’s own skin cells using nanotechnology.

Details at

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For more information on Bascom Palmer, visit


.AMD Alliance International Announces $10,000 Video Contest

January 29, 2010

Deadline for Entries is February, 28, 2010. AMD Alliance Video Contest: Videos To Depict the Impact of Macular Degeneration to Increase Awareness of the Leading Cause of Blindness for People Over 50

(PRWEB) January 28, 2010 — The AMD Alliance International, the only international organization in the world dedicated exclusively to promoting awareness, treatment and research into macular degeneration, is hosting a $10,000 video contest.

Individuals are invited to create and submit videos that will communicate in the most creative and visually interesting ways, the impact of the blinding disease.

The contest is currently open and closes on February 28, 2010. Winners will be announced on March 31, 2010. Videos must be no longer than 3 minutes and created in English or with English subtitles.

For further details about the contest including rules, visit:

Implant Readies Eye For Restored Vision

January 27, 2010

Researchers trying to restore vision damaged by disease have found promise in a tiny implant that sows seeds of new cells in the eye.

The diseases macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa lay waste to photoreceptors, the cells in the retina that turn light into electrical signals carried to the brain. The damage leaves millions of people worldwide with debilitating sight loss.

The nerves behind the light-switching cells, however, remain intact, meaning that with new photoreceptors, a patient could see again.

Early attempts to regenerate sight by injecting seed or progenitor cells that grow into photoreceptors into the eye of a mouse model failed.

“As with any part of the central nervous system, scar tissue is a barrier to regeneration,” said Gary Wnek, a professor of macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

Wnek, the Joseph F. Toot, Jr. Professor of Engineering, and Meghan Smith, a recent Ph.D. recipient at CWRU, joined a team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of California, Irvine, to design an implant that clears scar tissue left by disease and delivers progenitor cells.

They report their results in the January issue of Biomaterials.

Wnek and Smith made the micro-implant’s scaffolding. They built a mesh through a process called electrospinning, which uses electrical charges to draw biodegradable polymers out of a needle and into a fine stream, producing interwoven fibers ranging from 1/20th to 1/1000th the width of a hair, Smith explained.

Embedded in the fibers are pockets containing enzymes which slowly migrate out as the polymer degrades, eating away local scar tissue and exposing fertile ground for the progenitor cells carried on the implant’s surface.

Without the enzymes, the implant alone increased the number of progenitor cells reaching the degraded site 16-fold and survival 9- fold over injection in a mouse model. The mesh provided structural support for the cells and chemical support with a coating of extracellular fluid, said Budd A. Tucker, a postdoctoral fellow at the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard and the lead author of the paper.

With the enzymes on board, the number of progenitor cells that implanted and survived increased another 15- to 20-fold Tucker said.

“No one knows what the magic number of cells needed to regain sight is,” Tucker said. “But I suspect this is a reasonable number.”

Published work has shown that people who suffer sight loss can regain visual acuity with the addition of fewer photoreceptor cells than the number that naturally populate a healthy eye, he said.

In a mouse model that received the implant, progenitor cells were taking on the form of mature photoreceptors and expressed mature photoreceptor markers 14 days after implantation.

Researchers Develop New Tool for Gene Delivery to Retina

January 27, 2010

 Researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts have developed a new tool for gene therapy that significantly increases gene delivery to cells in the retina compared to other carriers and DNA alone, according to a study published in the January issue of The Journal of Gene Medicine. The tool, a peptide called PEG-POD, provides a vehicle for therapeutic genes and may help researchers develop therapies for degenerative eye disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

“For the first time, we have demonstrated an efficient way to transfer DNA into cells without using a virus, currently the most common means of DNA delivery. Many non-viral vectors for gene therapy have been developed but few, if any, work in post-mitotic tissues such as the retina and brain. Identifying effective carriers like PEG-POD brings us closer to gene therapy to protect the retinal cells from degeneration,” said senior author Rajendra Kumar-Singh.

Foundation Fighting Blindness

January 25, 2010

For many years, people with retinal degenerative diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP), Usher syndrome, and Stargardt disease have been frequently told by their eye care professionals that “there’s nothing we can do.”
Researchers funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness are moving promising treatments and cures into human studies, and in the not-too-distant future, there are likely to be therapies that will enable eye care professionals to better treat many retinal degenerative diseases.

Over the past two years, more than 20 people who were nearly blind from a severe form of retinitis pigmentosa known as Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) have had significant vision restored thanks to three landmark Phase I clinical trials of gene therapy. This breakthrough has received media attention and scientific accolades from around the world.

January 20, 2010

ATIA Assistive Tech Conference in Orlando, FL

Stop by booth 607 to meet with Code Factory staff and discover the Mobile Speak 4 experience!

Terrassa (Barcelona), Spain, January 20, 2010

Code Factory, the global leader in development of products designed to eliminate barriers to the accessibility of mobile technology for the blind and visually impaired, is proud to be an exhibitor, in booth 607, at the 2010 ATIA Conference, taking place from January 27th to 30th at the Caribe Royale All-Suite Resort and Convention Center, Orlando, Florida USA.

CEO Eduard Sánchez and CTO Greg Gladman will be Code Factory’s representatives. Stop by booth 607, and ask them to walk you through all of the many new features and advantages of Mobile Speak 4, the new version of Code Factory’s award-winning screen reader. For example, feel free to ask Eduard to show you, on his HP iPAQ Glisten running Windows Mobile 6.5, how to browse the Internet by heading, link, form, or other control of your choice, as well as search for text, and even add bookmarks to web pages. Ask Greg to show you on his Nokia N97 how to use Mobile Speak’s brand-new commands for reading and read a text by character, word, line and paragraph. Try Mobile Speak 4’s new touch interface on a HTC Touch Pro 2, they will show you how to slide and tap the screen to control Mobile Speak and access all the functionality of the device. Find out why we are always saying that Mobile Speak 4 is Cross-Platform, Touch, Multi-Voice and Ready for the Next Generation!

On Thursday, January 28 at 1:30 PM (in Room Antigua 3), Eduard Sánchez will give a presentation entitled Touch screen devices, a new challenge for accessibility (SI-08). This presentation will explain and analyze the challenges as well as opportunities that touch screen technology are raising in terms of accessibility and how Code Factory will allow its users to enter this new world of possibilities.

“We like to say that Mobile Speak 4 is all what our users have been waiting for, because we have, throughout the development process, tried to include all the most demanded features that our users have been asking us to bring forward” explains Eduard Sánchez, Code Factory’s CEO. “Therefore, to thank you for your strong commitment, your trust in us as well as your everyday help, we are very happy to offer a dinner for one person with Greg Gladman and myself on Friday, January 29 at ATIA. To us, it will be a wonderful way to celebrate the coming launch of Mobile Speak 4 and give someone the opportunity to ask everything she or he wants to know about Code Factory and our products”. If you are planning to attend ATIA 2010, send an email to with Dinner ATIA 2010 as its subject to participate in the draw!


  • Thursday, January 28, 2010: 10:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M. and 3:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.
  • Friday, January 29, 2010: 10:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M. and 3:00 P.M. – 5:30 P.M.
  • Saturday, January 30, 2010: 9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

To find out more about the ATIA Conference,


To learn more about Mobile Speak 4, visit Code Factory’s website at

About Code Factory

Code Factory is the leading provider of screen readers, screen magnifiers, and Braille interfaces for the widest range of mainstream mobile devices. Our mission is to break down barriers to the accessibility of mobile technology for the blind and visually impaired. Our accessible solutions are used in more than 50 countries and 30 languages. Among Code Factory’s customers are well known organizations for the blind such as ONCE, and carriers such as AT&T, Bouygues Telecom, SFR, and Vodafone. Code Factory have also built strong partnerships with mainstream companies like Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Nokia, and RIM as well as leading AT companies like HumanWare, Optelec and Sendero.

Raleigh FFB Meeting

January 20, 2010

This announcement from Lauren Tappan:

 Join us!
Coffee & Informal Networking
Hosted by the Raleigh Durham Chapter

Coffee Cup

Join Ed Summers, Chapter President and Raleigh Durham Chapter members for coffee and roundtable discussions such as:

  • Coping
  • Spouse and Parent Sharing
  • Career Insights
  • Technology

Meet others affected by retinal disease and share your thoughts, experiences, and insights with others. Also, learn about the Foundation’s great research and upcoming events. Family members and friends are encouraged to participate!

Date: Saturday, January 30, 2010
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Note New Location:
Cameron Village Library
1930 Clark Avenue
Second Floor Meeting Room #202
Raleigh, NC 27605

Attendance is free – please RSVP to Chris Stetkiewicz at (919) 781-8014 or

Please join us…

  • Discuss opportunities for the Raleigh Durham Chapter
  • Meet others who are affected by retinal degenerative diseases

Please share this message with friends and family who might be interested in retinal disease research or in helping the Foundation Fighting Blindness.