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Welcome to the December 2010 edition of At-A-Glance, Lighthouse International’s low vision newsletter. Read our feature article on an exciting new clinical trial to treat macular degeneration.

Feature Story

Biotech Company to Use Embryonic Stem Cells to Treat Macular Degeneration

Hope may have finally arrived for people with Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy (SMD). Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), a biotechnology company located in Marlborough, MA, has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a clinical trial using retinal cells derived from human embryonic stem cells to treat patients with Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy.

SMD is the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration and is usually diagnosed in children between 10 to 20 years of age. Since the progression of visual loss is variable, some individuals may have visual acuities in the range of 20/200 (legal blindness) to 20/400. There is currently no treatment for Stargardt’s disease.

"The announcement for the beginning of clinical trials with stem cells for Stargart's Macular Dystrophy gives hope to so many that their vision may once again be restored,” said Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, Chief of Low Vision Programs at Lighthouse International. “It’s hoped that research with stem cells will turn the tide and result in stabilization and improvement in visual function.”

ACT’s clinical trial, which includes 12 patients, will determine the safety of using stem cells to treat patients with advanced SMD. “Using stem cells, we can generate a virtually unlimited supply of healthy RPE cells, which are the first cells to die off in SMD and other forms of macular degeneration,” said Dr. Robert Lanza, ACT’s Chief Scientific Officer, in a statement. “Our studies showed that the cells were capable of extensive rescue of photoreceptors in animals that otherwise would have gone blind. We hope to see a similar benefit in patients with various forms of macular degeneration.”

For more information on Stargardt’s disease, visit www.Lighthouse.org.  

Ask the Expert

Every month, Lighthouse International’s staff of industry leading experts will answer your vision related questions. Visit the Ask the Expert form to submit your questions for next month!

Q: I have been suffering from low vision and dryness of the optic nerve. Is there anything I can do?

A: Depending on what type of optic nerve disease you have, there may be treatment available. Optic nerve disease encompasses a broad range of conditions. You may also suffer from dry eyes, which is an ocular surface condition, unrelated to the optic nerve condition … Read on for the answer to this question and the rest of December’s Ask the Expert selections.

Lighthouse Store Holiday Buying Guide
This holiday, The Lighthouse Store is your source for the latest vision friendly products that can make your day-to-day life easier. If you’re shopping for an elderly relative or a loved one who is blind or visually impaired, here are three products to consider this holiday season.

Get ready for the new year with a large, big type 11” X 17” 2011 calendar!

The Tel-Time curved talking alarm clock features an audio time report, hourly time announcement, adjustable volume, and easy to set alarm.

Super-sized Sudoku equals super-sized fun! Each 8 x10 page features one puzzle with large numbers and ample writing space.

To purchase these gifts and more: Shop Now!

Reminder: To guarantee delivery by December 24, 2010, orders must be placed by December 17, 2010.

This newsletter is brought to you by Lighthouse International. Please donate online to support programs that enable people with vision loss to remain independent. lighthouse.org/donate  

 

 

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