Restoring Vision to the Blind: Wouldn't that Be Mice?
Written by Alyssa Clark
Restoring Vision to the Blind: Wouldn’t that Be Mice?
Believe it or not, the University College London’s scientists just may have done the impossible— a recent study has created the possibility of restoring sight to the blind. The how to’s of this new intricate development is explained in a story reported by New Scientist, as more and more people are becoming aware of this life-changing possibility.
Stemming from researchers being able to grow light-sensing cells found in the retina of the eye from scratch, these scientists have been able to successfully transplant these embryonic stem cells into the eyes of blind mice. How’s that for medical innovation?
This study targets restoring the vision of those with no remaining photoreceptor cells and although full, successful restoration hasn’t yet been reached, the researchers have successfully restored vision to a man with partial blindness. When these lab-grown photoreceptor cells are newly implanted into the mice’s eye, they can successfully establish connections with the nerves and send visual signals to the brain. The positive results that have been generated by the harmless testing that has occurred on these mice leave researchers ecstatic about the potential for this technology to be utilized in humans.
Blindness is caused by the degeneration of photoreceptor cells, and by implementing these new “home grown” cells, this technology can virtually eliminate that problem for patients with diabetes or simply matters associated with standard aging as well. The New Scientist reports that Robin Ali, the director of the team to invent and perform the transplant, has high hopes for the experiment. Leaving no one behind, Ali hopes that this surgery will “help us treat a broad range of patients”, and help give people back their sight, something they have long thought impossible.
Ali explains that they "now have a route map for doing this with human embryonic stem cells," and that "the challenge is to get [the procedure] efficient enough for transplants."
It has taken over a decade to get this testing up, running and producing quality results— but patience proves once again to be a virtue for those waiting to see their own future sight possibilities. Unfortunately, the process may take another 5 years to make it to the human testing spectrum, but with this technology on the horizon, it sure makes the dark days for those afflicted with blindness much more hopeful. Having this technology readily available and being constantly furthered can only benefit those waiting on a solution, and this reassures them that regaining sight is not just an idea, it’s an actual possibility.
The procedure has actually already produced results on a man who had a few surviving photoreceptor cells, as he managed to successfully accept the lab-grown ones, and he was able to eventually regain sight. Crossing curing partial-blindness off the list of to do’s for this study is a large feat, and is one that will have people continuously talking for years to come as they wait for the day when patients will be able to see this study’s results firsthand.
About the Author
Alyssa Clark is the Editor of Healthcare Global
Introducing Dosis - the AI powered dosing platform
Cloud-based platform Dosis uses AI to help patients and clinicians tailor their medication plans. Shivrat Chhabra, CEO and co-founder, tells us how it works.
When and why was Dosis founded?
Divya, my co-founder and I founded Dosis in 2017 with the purpose of creating a personalised dosing platform. We see personalisation in so many aspects of our lives, but not in the amount of medication we receive. We came across some research at the University of Louisville that personalised the dosing of a class of drugs called ESAs that are used to treat chronic anaemia. We thought, if commercialised, this could greatly benefit the healthcare industry by introducing precision medicine to drug dosing.
The research also showed that by taking this personalised approach, less drugs were needed to achieve the same or better outcomes. That meant that patients were exposed to less medication, so there was a lower likelihood of side effects. It also meant that the cost of care was reduced.
What is the Strategic Anemia Advisor?
Dosis’s flagship product, Strategic Anemia Advisor (SAA), personalises the dosing of Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs). ESAs are a class of drugs used to treat chronic anaemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease.
SAA takes into account a patient’s previous ESA doses and lab levels, determines the patient’s unique response to the drug and outputs an ESA dose recommendation to keep the patient within a specified therapeutic target range. Healthcare providers use SAA as a clinical decision support tool.
What else is Dosis working on?
In the near term, we are working on releasing a personalised dosing module for IV iron, another drug that’s used in tandem with ESAs to treat chronic anaemia. We’re also working on personalising the dosing for the three drugs used to treat Mineral Bone Disorder. We’re very excited to expand our platform to these new drugs.
What are Dosis' strategic goals for the next 2-3 years?
We strongly believe that personalised dosing will be the standard of care within the next decade, and we’re honored to be a part of making that future a reality. In the next few years, we see Dosis entering partnerships with other companies that operate within value-based care environments, where tools like ours that help reduce cost while maintaining or improving outcomes are extremely useful.
What do you think AI's greatest benefits to healthcare are?
If designed well, AI in healthcare allows for a practical and usable way to deploy solutions that would not be feasible otherwise. For example, it’s possible for someone to manually solve the mathematical equations necessary to personalise drug dosing, but it is just not practical. AI in healthcare offers an exciting path forward for implementing solutions that for so long have appeared impractical or impossible.