California scientists say early tests show experimental electronic devices recently implanted in three legally blind patients are functioning. At least one patient has been able to distinguish between objects, like a cup or plate. The implant is designed for people with damaged retinas caused by diseases like macular degeneration and retinal pigmentosa.
Right now, there are a handful of versions under study. This particular device at the University of Southern Californiaa is literally a sliver of silicone and platinum that is packed with 16 electrodes and is attached to the top of the retina. Researchers say some of the patients, although legally blind, were able to describe the motion of an object, and even count discrete objects.
Similar research is underway at Johns Hopkins. The retina is the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness for those aged 55 and older in the United States, affecting more than 10 million Americans.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a hereditary disease in which the retinal cells gradually die over time, robbing sufferers of their vision. An estimated 100,000 people in the United States have the disease. For more information about the retinal implant (click here) to goto the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. The Doheny Retina Institute and Second Sight, LLC are conducting the FDA approved study. Results are being presented at the Retinal Prosthesis Session of the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, or ARVO, being held in Fort Lauderdale.
Gene researchers have uncovered changes in one family of genes they say may be linked to more than 30% of colon cancers. It's a discovery which could open the door to new treatments for the disease. The research team at Johns Hopkins studied nearly 200 human colon cancers to identify mutations or changes in whats called the TK gene family. TK genes help control cell growth and tissue invasion and are good targets for cancer therapies. Colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer, and more than 148,000 Americans were diagnosed with it last year.
The effect of asthma goes beyond your lungs. It's a risk factor for your dental health as well. Asthmatics often have a double dental whammy of breathing through the mouth, instead of the nose, coupled with medicines that reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth. And that extra dryness can lead to bad breath and more caviaties. So, the Academy of General Dentistry advises patients that if you suffer from asthma to be sure your dentist knows that about you.