News from NEI Grantees
July 10, 2014
In a new study led by UC San Francisco (UCSF) scientists, a chemical compound designed to precisely target part of a crucial cellular quality-control network provided significant protection, in rats and mice, against degenerative forms of blindness and diabetes.
July 10, 2014
Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have created a way to develop personalized gene therapies for patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a leading cause of vision loss. The approach, the first of its kind, takes advantage of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology to transform skin cells into retinal cells, which are then used as a patient-specific model for disease study and preclinical testing.
July 7, 2014
In a new study, Brown University neuroscientists looked cell-by-cell at the brain circuitry that tadpoles, and possibly other animals, use to avoid collisions. The study produced a model of how individual inhibitory and excitatory neurons can work together to control a simple behavior.
July 2, 2014
Boston researchers have identified a way to enhance regrowth of human corneal tissue to restore vision, using a molecule known as ABCB5 that acts as a marker for hard-to-find limbal stem cells. This work, a collaboration between the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute (Mass. Eye and Ear), Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the VA Boston Healthcare System, provides promise to burn victims, victims of chemical injury and others with damaging eye diseases.
June 10, 2014
Using a type of human stem cell, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have created a three-dimensional complement of human retinal tissue in the laboratory, which notably includes functioning photoreceptor cells capable of responding to light, the first step in the process of converting it into visual images.
May 21, 2014
A type of retina cell plays a more critical role in vision than previously known, a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers has discovered. Working with mice, the scientists found that the ipRGCs — an atypical type of photoreceptor in the retina — help detect contrast between light and dark, a crucial element in the formation of visual images.
April 17, 2014
Indiana University researchers have detected new early-warning signs of the potential loss of sight associated with diabetes. This discovery could have far-reaching implications for the diagnosis and treatment of diabetic retinopathy, potentially impacting the care of over 25 million Americans.
April 2, 2014
A multidisciplinary research team of scientists, clinicians and biostatisticians led by John Guy, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and director of the ocular gene therapy laboratory at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has pioneered a gene therapy approach for Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), an inherited genetic disorder that causes rapid, permanent, and bilateral loss of vision in people of all ages, but primarily men ages 20-40.
March 3, 2014
In a detailed study of the neurons linking the eyes and brains of mice, biologists at UC San Diego discovered that the ability of our brains and those of other mammals to figure out and process in our brains directional movements is a result of the activation in the cortex of signals that originate from the direction-sensing cells in the retina of our eyes.
February 24, 2014
The unusual arrangement of cells in a chicken's eye constitutes the first known biological occurrence of a potentially new state of matter known as "disordered hyperuniformity," according to researchers from Princeton University and Washington University in St. Louis. Research in the past decade has shown that disordered hyperuniform materials have unique properties when it comes to transmitting and controlling light waves, the researchers report in the journal Physical Review E.
February 11, 2014
A study at SUNY Optometry advances our understanding of how our brains are wired for seeing white versus black objects.
February 5, 2014
Call it the Ray Charles Effect: a young child who is blind develops a keen ability to hear things that others cannot. Researchers have long known this can happen in the brains of the very young, which are malleable enough to re-wire some circuits that process sensory information. Now researchers at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University have overturned conventional wisdom, showing the brains of adult mice can also be re-wired to compensate for a temporary vision loss by improving their hearing.
February 3, 2014
A new study indicates that it may be possible to accurately characterize complete neural networks by recording the activity of properly selected samples of 50 neurons or less - an alternative that is much easier to realize. The study was performed by a team of cognitive neuroscientists at Vanderbilt University and reported in a paper published the week of Feb. 3 in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
January 27, 2014
Deprivation of vision during critical periods of childhood development has long been thought to result in irreversible vision loss. Now, researchers from the Schepens Eye Research Institute/Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have challenged that theory by studying a unique population of pediatric patients who were blind during these critical periods before removal of bilateral cataracts.
January 26, 2014
Every time you open your eyes, visual information flows into your brain, which interprets what you're seeing. Now, for the first time, MIT neuroscientists have noninvasively mapped this flow of information in the human brain with unique accuracy, using a novel brain-scanning technique.
January 21, 2014
Dopamine-restoring drugs already used to treat Parkinson's disease may also be beneficial for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in adults, Emory University researchers have discovered. The results were published recently in Journal of Neuroscience.
January 16, 2014
Scientists say the unexpected finding offers a new basic understanding of fetal eye development and ocular diseases caused by vascular disorders - in particular one called retinopathy of prematurity that can blind premature infants. The research, led by scientists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and UCSF, was published online Jan. 16 in Nature.
January 13, 2014
"It's a cascade that requires two players to signal the next event that causes the damage," said Dr. Ruth Caldwell, cell biologist at the Vascular Biology Center at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Georgia Regents University. The good news is the finding also provides two new points for intervention, said Dr. Modesto Rojas, MCG postdoctoral fellow and first author of the study in the journal PLOS ONE.
December 30, 2013
For the estimated 10 percent of patients whose bodies reject a corneal transplant, the odds of a second transplant succeeding are poor. All that could change, however, based on a UT Southwestern Medical Center study that has found a way to boost the corneal transplant acceptance rate.
October 31, 2013
Our vision depends on exquisitely organized layers of cells within the eye's retina, each with a distinct role in perception. Johns Hopkins researchers say they have taken an important step toward understanding how those cells are organized to produce what the brain "sees."
October 23, 2013
A promising technique for treating human eye disease has proven effective in preclinical studies and may lead to new treatments to prevent blindness, according to experiments conducted at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California.
October 16, 2013
Researchers report "encouraging" findings that mark the first clear step in developing a gene therapy that could prevent vision loss or even restore vision in individuals with Best disease.
October 9, 2013
The research findings, published today in PLOS ONE, are the first to report successful topical use of a compound capable of inhibiting symptoms associated with both dry AMD (the earlier form) and wet AMD (the rarer, later form) and could represent a breakthrough for treatment of these conditions.
August 21, 2013
Johns Hopkins biomedical engineers have teamed up with clinicians to create a new drug-delivery strategy for a type of central vision loss caused by blood vessel growth at the back of the eye, where such growth should not occur.
August 21, 2013
Retinal diseases are the leading cause of blindness in adults aged 60 and over, affecting millions of people worldwide. Pioneering research at the Levine Laboratory, Moran Eye Center, University of Utah is providing scientists with a new understanding of how the retina develops from conception to birth.
August 13, 2013
Scientists are developing a clearer picture of how visual systems develop in mammals. The findings offer important clues to the origin of retinal disorders later in life.
August 08, 2013
A new discovery by a University of Maryland-led research team offers hope for treating "lazy eye" and other serious visual problems that are usually permanent unless they are corrected in early childhood.
July 18, 2013
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis have found that good vision depends, at least in part, on a recycling process in the eye that mops up cellular debris and reuses light-sensitive proteins.
May 20, 2013
Over the millennia of human evolution, our brains developed a pattern of search based largely on environmental cues and scene context.
May 8, 2013
For the first time, vision scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have pinpointed how the brain tracks fast-moving objects.
April 22, 2013
When we embark on a targeted search, various visual and non-visual regions of the brain mobilize to track down a person, animal or thing.
April 9, 2013
Researchers have discovered that using two kinds of therapy in tandem may be a knockout combo against inherited disorders that cause blindness.
March 25, 2013
A 20-year study of almost 5,000 residents of Beaver Dam, Wis. has some good news - the eye health of older Americans is improving.
December 12, 2012
The odds of individuals with open-angle glaucoma undergoing visual field testing decreased for all racial/ethnic groups from 2001 through 2009, but the odds decreased the most for Hispanic men and women in a study of enrollees in a large U.S. managed care network.
December 10, 2012
For the first time, University of Wisconsin researchers have taken skin from patients and, using induced pluripotent stem cell technology, turned them into a laboratory model for an inherited type of macular degeneration.
December 7, 2012
Working with mice, Johns Hopkins researchers have shed light on the activity of a protein pair found in cells that form the walls of blood vessels in the brain and retina, experiments that could lead to therapeutic control of the blood-brain barrier and of blood vessel growth in the eye.
December 5, 2012
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of California at Los Angeles recently created a light-sensitive molecule that they say could help restore vision lost in degenerative eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, and reduce epileptic seizures.
November 27, 2012
A substance in rosemary may have clinical applications for diseases affecting the retina, including age-related macular degeneration, U.S. researchers say. Dr. Stuart A. Lipton and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute said carnosic acid, a component of the herb rosemary, promotes eye health.
November 27, 2012
"Our findings are epigenetic in nature, meaning that the underlying DNA is normal but gene expression has been modified, likely by environmental factors, in an adverse way," Dr. Robert Nussenblatt, chief of the National Eye Institute Laboratory of Immunology, part of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement.
November 21, 2012
Using a new technique called cryo-electron tomography, two research teams at Baylor College of Medicine have created a three-dimensional map that gives a better understanding of how the architecture of the rod sensory cilium (part of one type of photoreceptor in the eye) is changed by genetic mutation and how that affects its ability to transport proteins as part of the light-sensing process.
November 15, 2012
Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have found a way to stimulate stem cell-derived neurons to direct cognitive function after transplantation to an existing neural network by using optogenetic stimulation - getting us a step closer to using these cells to treat Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.
November 14, 2012
Chemists and vision scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have designed a light-sensitive molecule that can stimulate a neural response in cells of the retina and brain -- a possible first step to overcoming degenerative eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration, or to quieting epileptic seizures.
November 9, 2012
Dr. Ronald Klein, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and colleagues describe the relationship of age and risk alleles (variant gene forms) with the incidence and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) during a 20-year period. They conclude the overall five-year incidence of early AMD was 9.1 percent and late AMD was 1.6 percent.