Thousands of West Africans who were infected with the Ebola virus but survived it are suffering chronic conditions such as serious joint pain and eye inflammation that can lead to blindness, global health experts said.
Reporting on their study with lab-grown human cells, researchers at The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland say that blocking a second blood vessel growth protein, along with one that is already well-known, could offer a new way to treat and prevent a blinding eye disease caused by diabetes.
Hereditary blindness ― caused by a progressive degeneration of the light-sensing cells in the eye ― affects millions of people worldwide. Although the light-sensing cells are lost, cells in deeper layers of the retina, which normally cannot sense light, remain intact. A promising new therapeutic approach based on a technology termed "optogenetics" is to introduce light-sensing proteins into these surviving retinal cells, turning them into "replacement photoreceptors" and thereby restoring vision.
In new research, scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in Germany and the USA showed that the way in which the brain organizes its visual sense remains intact even in people who are blind from birth, and that at least the pattern of functional connectivity between the visual area and the topographical representation of space (up/down, left/right, etc.) can develop on its own without any actual visual experience.