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USA Scientist Crack Code The Retina Uses To Communicate With Brain, Curing Blind Mice.

Blind Mice Given Sight After Device Cracks Retinal Code

By Jeanna Smialek -
Aug 13, 2012 3:00 PM ET

Blind mice had their vision restored
with a device that helped diseased retinas send signals to the
brain, according to a study that may lead to new prosthetic
technology for millions of sight-impaired people.
Current devices are limited in the aid they provide to
people with degenerative diseases of the retina, the part of the
eye that converts light into electrical impulses to the brain.
In research described today in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, scientists cracked the code the retina uses
to communicate with the brain.

Blind mice had their vision
restored with a device that helped diseased retinas send signals to the
brain. Above, a household mouse not part of the experiment.
Photographer: Roger Jackman/Oxford Scientific
The technology moves prosthetics beyond bright light and
high-contrast recognition and may be adopted for human use
within a year or two, said Sheila Nirenberg, a neuroscientist at
Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and the study’s lead
author. “What this shows is that we have the essential ingredients
to make a very effective prosthetic,” Nirenberg said.
Researchers haven’t yet tested the approach on humans, though
have assembled the code for monkeys, she said. Once the researchers determined the code the mouse retina
used to communicate with the brain, they were able to mimic it
with electric-signal sending glasses, Nirenberg said. Previous
prosthetics have used less-specific stimulation and proved
inherently limited as a result, she said. About 20 million people worldwide are blind or facing
blindness due to retinal degenerative diseases, such as macular
degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. The disorders cause a
progressive loss of the retina’s input cells, or photoreceptors. Visual Equations Nirenberg and co-author Chethan Pandarinath first monitored
healthy eyes to determine the set of equations that translate
light received by the retina into something the brain can
understand. Then, they used special glasses to create a similar
code and deliver it to the eye, which they had injected with a
virus containing light-sensitive cells. The cells received the
code and fired electric impulses, which the brain could
interpret as images. Nirenberg’s research “is basically giving vision back to a
system that doesn’t work,” said Aude Oliva, a principal
investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s
Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, who wasn’t involved in the research.
“I’ve never seen, and other people have never seen, this
quality.” No foreseeable barriers should stop the movement into
humans now that the technology has been created, Oliva said.
Nirenberg said that if researchers can come up with adequate
cash to fund clinical trials, she hopes to soon adapt the
technology. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in
people older than 55 in the western world and may triple in
incidence by 2025 according to a 2009 report by the American
Optometric Society. Retinal diseases could find a “reasonable
solution” in the technology, said Jonathan Victor, a professor
in the department of neurology and neuroscience at Weill who was
familiar with, but not involved in the research. “It’s a major step, it’s elegant, and it works,” he said.

Added: Aug-14-2012 Occurred On: Aug-14-2012
By: VikingRapeSquad
Regional News
Tags: american, scientiscts, cure, blind, mice,
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