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A pioneering stem cell treatment restores eyesight in nearly blind patients

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A pair of patients with severe vision loss have had their sight restored, courtesy of a pioneering trial using stem cells to regrow crucial tissues in the eye. The first-of-its-kind procedure was carried out on a man in his 80s and woman in her 60s, conducted at the U.K.’s Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. Both patients suffered from visual impairments as the result of a vision disorder called age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Prior to the operation, both patients were unable to read under any conditions but afterward, they were able to read 60 to 80 words per minute using regular reading glasses. The operation was carried out one year ago, and both have been closely monitored since then.

The trial involved growing a replacement layer of cells called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). These are used for supporting the retina cells whose job is to capture light for vision. Loss of vision is caused by the death of the light-sensing retinal cells at the back of the eye, referred to as the macular.

This growth of replacement RPE cells was carried out using human embryonic stem cells, undifferentiated cells which can be prompted to transform into specialized cells, depending on requirements. In this work, the stem cell-based RPE cells were grown on a plastic scaffold, which re-creates the eye’s shapes and structure, before being transplanted into the back of each patient’s eye.

In the past, similar stem cell breakthroughs have been used for everything from giving people with paralysis their sense of touch back to providing a possible cure for Type 1 diabetes.

While this latest vision-related stem cell treatment is very much a trial, the researchers involved hope that this could lead to an “off the shelf” solution based on this study to be available to patients in the future. To reach this point, it will be necessary to carry out other, larger scale clinical trials to further prove the efficacy of the treatment.

A paper describing the work, “Phase 1 clinical study of an embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium patch in age-related macular degeneration,” was recently published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

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DR Congo blame Unending Ebola Outbreak on Violence , Community Mistrust.

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DR Congo Ministry of Health spokesperson Jessica Ilunga has declared that violence and community mistrust have continued to hamper all efforts to control and end the fresh Ebola outbreak, which started Aug. 1.



Though according to the World Health Organization the number of new Ebola cases has dropped slightly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as there are 33% fewer cases to date in February compared with the same time period in December per STAT’s Helen Branswell, but some experts warn Axios that there remain signs that this outbreak is far from over.

Meanwhile, some experts warn that, that doesn’t mean the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak on record is yet under control, and in fact it could simply be moving to new areas of the sprawling country.

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Johns Hopkins’ public health expert Jennifer Nuzzo maintains there are several reasons people should continue to view this outbreak as a cause for concern.

However, Nuzzo said Congo needs more than money from the international community and the U.S. in particular. Safety concerns have largely caused the CDC to limit its Ebola experts to the capital city of Kinshasa, where some have returned after being evacuated during an uptick in election-related violence, Nuzzo added that Now is the time for the U.S. to send them into the field.

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Sports head injuries Balanced reportage is required – Experts

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A group of more than 60 leading international neuroscientists, including Mark Herceg, PhD, a neuropsychologist at Northwell Health’s Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and a member of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, published a correspondence today in The Lancet Neurology, asking for balance when reporting on sports-related injury chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a type of dementia associated with exposure to repeated concussions, and has been linked with a variety of contact sports such as boxing, football, American football and rugby.



Although CTE is commonly featured in the news media and discussed among peers, the medical community is just beginning to understand how to recognize the disease, guidelines for how to assess its severity have yet to be established.

“We don’t currently have a clear understanding of the link between CTE pathology and any specific symptoms,” noted Dr. Herceg. “It’s important to note to the public at large that CTE is at an early stage of scientific and medical understanding, with many important aspects of the disease yet to be established.”

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“Dr. Herceg and his colleague’s CTE research is timely and impactful as a major step forward to more clearly defining the risk and prevalence of this important syndrome,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute.

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-Northwell Health

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