New Implantable Lenses Can Reduce The Need For Glasses After Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery involves
removing a clouded natural lens from inside the eye and replacing it with a
plastic one. While the operation itself hasn’t changed much over recent
years, the plastic lenses have. The biggest advantage of the newer lenses
is their ability to reduce the need for glasses after surgery, says a newly
updated report from Harvard Medical School.

The Aging Eye: Preventing and Treating Eye Disease explains that the
older types of plastic lenses help people see well at one distance — be it
close up, far away, or at a medium distance. Two newer types of lenses,
accommodating and multifocal, let the eye focus at varying distances, so
fewer patients need glasses for reading or distance vision.

The accommodating intraocular lens has hinges on its sides that permit
it to move as the eye’s ciliary muscle contracts or relaxes. This improves
the ability to change focus from near to far. The multifocal intraocular
lens uses a new type of refractive technology to provide focus for multiple
distances. This type has either small, concentric circular ridges that
permit the eye to change its range of focus or broad zones to provide near,
intermediate, and distance vision.

Insurers may not cover these newer lenses, and some people cannot
receive them because of other medical issues. The most common problems with
the newer lenses are glare, halos, and the continued need for eyeglasses.

Harvard Health Publications

Results From Neurotech’s NT-501 Phase 2 Retinitis Pigmentosa Studies Demonstrate Consistent Biological Effect On Photoreceptors

Neurotech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that the Company’s product candidate, NT-501, demonstrated a strong biologic effect in two Phase 2 clinical trials for retinitis pigmentosa (RP). RP is a slowly developing condition that causes the progressive degeneration of rod & cone photoreceptor cells in the retina that over time diminishes night and peripheral vision and eventually leads to blindness. RP is an orphan-designated indication for which there are currently no approved treatments.

In both studies, there was a statistically significant (p< 0.001 for the high dose group in each study), dose-dependent increase in retinal thickness involving photoreceptor layers as measured by optical coherence tomography (OCT). This statistically-significant effect has also been observed in a recently completed Phase 2 NT-501 study in patients with geographic atrophy associated with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the results of which were reported by Neurotech on March 26, 2009. This effect, which is believed by the Company to be neuroprotective, has also been demonstrated in animals. NT-501 is an intraocular implant that consists of human cells that have been genetically modified to secrete ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF). CNTF, a growth factor capable of rescuing and protecting dying photoreceptors, is delivered directly to the back of the eye in a controlled, continuous basis by means of the Company’s proprietary Encapsulated Cell Technology (ECT) platform. Delivery via ECT bypasses the blood-retinal barrier and overcomes a major obstacle in the treatment of retinal disease. The two Phase 2 studies were multi-centered, randomized, double-masked, sham-controlled dose ranging studies designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of NT-501 in patients with RP. The first trial studied 65 patients with later stage RP (defined as patients diagnosed with RP and vision between 20/63 and 20/320). The second trial studied 67 patients with earlier stage RP (defined as patients diagnosed with RP and vision better than 20/63). In both studies each patient received either a high or low dose NT-501 implant in one eye and a sham treatment in the fellow control eye. Best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and visual field sensitivity (VFS) were evaluated as primary endpoints for patients in the later stage and earlier stage RP studies, respectively. At 12 months no trend in visual benefit was observed in either study for these functions, possibly due to the slow progression of the disease. RP patients in general have a gradual progression of vision loss, often over many years or decades. These patients will continue to be monitored for an additional 6 to 18 months per protocol. There were no NT-501 associated serious adverse events reported and both NT-501 and the surgical procedure were well-tolerated. “CNTF has the potential to help people with retinitis pigmentosa and other photoreceptor degenerations,” said Dr. Paul Sieving, Director of the National Eye Institute and Principal Investigator of Neurotech’s Phase 1 study of NT-501 in RP. “These studies are important as they present an opportunity to move the field forward.” “We are hopeful that the biological changes observed in RP patients treated with NT-501 will lead to a benefit in visual function,” stated Dr. David Birch, Director of the Retina Foundation of the Southwest and lead investigator for the RP studies. “However, the progression of this disease is slow and we have not seen a visual benefit in the treated eye relative to the control eye over this relatively short 12-month time period,” added Dr. Birch. “We are encouraged with the consistent biological effects of CNTF observed in these two Phase 2 RP studies,” commented Ted Danse, President and Chief Executive Officer of Neurotech. “We will continue to follow the patients in these studies and plan to discuss the results and the clinical development path with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” added Mr. Danse. “We are pleased that the NT-501 treatment has shown a positive biological effect on the retina in these two clinical trials, and we are hopeful that vision preservation will be observed when all information is available at the conclusion of the clinical trials,” stated Stephen Rose, PhD, Chief Research Officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness. “We are very proud of our long-term support for NT-501 and the innovative ECT technology.” Explants of 25 NT-501 devices from these two studies were prospectively performed between 12 and 24 months following implantation. All have been found to have uniformly healthy, viable cells that continue to produce therapeutic levels of CNTF. This is consistent with data from multiple trials of NT-501 in which, to date, 40 devices have been explanted between 6 and 24 months following implantation and all devices have contained healthy, viable CNTF-producing cells. “We are very excited about the ability of our ECT platform to deliver a variety of therapeutic factors in a consistent, long-term and well-controlled manner,” said Danse. “In addition to these RP studies, we are actively developing NT-501 for geographic atrophy associated with dry AMD, and plan to initiate a Phase 1 study for our second product candidate, NT-503, in wet AMD in the second half of this year. NT-503 inhibits a well-validated target in wet AMD, VEGF, and has the potential to provide a one-time administration for a 12 to 18 month period versus the current wet AMD treatment regimen that requires monthly injections with very close patient monitoring,” concluded Danse. About Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited disease that causes the retina’s rod and cone photoreceptors to gradually degenerate leading to loss of vision and blindness. The symptoms of RP predominately appear in young adults and affect approximately 100,000 people in the United States and over 1 million people worldwide. At this time there is no known cure or effective treatment for RP. About NT-501 Neurotech’s lead product, NT-501, consists of encapsulated human cells genetically modified to secrete ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF). CNTF is a growth factor capable of rescuing dying photoreceptors and protecting them from degeneration. NT-501 is designed to continually deliver a therapeutic dose of CNTF into the back of the eye. About Encapsulated Cell Technology Neurotech’s core technology platform is Encapsulated Cell Technology (ECT), a unique technology that allows for the long-term, sustained delivery of therapeutic factors to the back of the eye. ECT implants consist of cells that have been genetically modified to produce a specific therapeutic protein and are encapsulated in a semi-permeable hollow fiber membrane. The diffusive characteristics of the hollow fiber membrane are designed to promote long-term cell survival by allowing the influx of oxygen and nutrients while simultaneously preventing direct contact of the encapsulated cells with the cellular and molecular elements of the immune system. The cells continuously produce the therapeutic protein which diffuses out of the implant at the target site. ECT thereby enables the controlled, continuous delivery of therapeutic factors directly to the retina, bypassing the blood-retina barrier. About Neurotech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Neurotech is developing sight-saving therapeutics for the treatment of chronic retinal diseases. The Company’s lead product candidate, NT-501, is currently in late-stage clinical development for advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The Company’s portfolio of product candidates also includes treatments for wet AMD. All of Neurotech’s development programs are based on the Company’s proprietary Encapsulated Cell Technology (ECT). ECT uniquely enables the controlled, continuous delivery of biologics directly to the back of the eye, thereby overcoming a major obstacle in the treatment of retinal disease. Source: Neurotech Pharmaceuticals, Inc

UIC Investigates Eye Infections Tied To Contact Lens Use

The use of a particular contact lens solution has a strong association with Acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare severe eye infection, report researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago in a study published online by the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

AK is an often severe, painful infection of the cornea that commonly causes corneal scarring and sometimes blindness.

“We began to look for possible contact lens-related causes for the sharp increase in cases, all in contact lens wearers, in this previously rare infection,” said Charlotte Joslin, assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at UIC and principle investigator in the study. “In the last three and half years we have seen 63 cases of the infections, compared to the two or three cases a year we would normally expect to see.”

In their study, the researchers compared 38 AK patients with 100 controls, all of whom were UIC clinic patients between 2003 and 2006. All participants were asked to fill out a survey.

Survey questions focused on the six-month period prior to symptoms and targeted three areas: water exposure; contact lens hygiene, including solutions and lens types; and other habits associated with contact lens use. Participants were provided with color images of the contact lens solution bottles to help them recall what type they had used.

Among soft contact lens wearers, participants with AK were significantly more likely to report having exclusively used AMO Complete MoisturePlus than the control group (55.2 percent vs. 10.5 percent).

“The results correlated with previously published laboratory studies that showed that Acanthamoeba is largely resistant to contact lens solutions in general and to Complete MoisturePlus in particular,” said Dr. Elmer Tu, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology, who is also involved with the study.

In their voluntary recall, the company emphasized that there is no evidence to suggest that today’s voluntary recall is related to a product contamination issue.

The researchers also found a statistically weak association between three other contact lens use factors and infection: reusing solution, rubbing the lenses when cleaning them, and showering with lenses on.

“Showering can scatter water-borne microbes into a mist and increase exposure to the microbe that causes the infection,” said Joslin. Reusing solutions and not rubbing lens when cleaning and storing them could also result in more exposure to the microbe.

Because these factors are associated with an increased likelihood of infection and this is the second very recent outbreak of an extremely rare eye infection, the researchers emphasize that it is important to look for additional causes behind the outbreak of this infection and to evaluate whether changes in the water supply may be contributing to this increase in disease.

For instance, Joslin said, recent Environmental Protection Agency regulations that decrease the levels of disinfectant in the water supply may have led to an increase in the microbial load that contact lens solutions must kill in order to prevent disease.

“Our results demonstrate that the use of AMO Complete MoisturePlus Multi-Purpose Solution is strongly associated with AK disease — but it was not a factor in nearly 40 percent of cases,” Joslin said.

The UIC researchers alerted the Illinois Department of Public Health to the outbreak in 2006, which in turn informed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC began monitoring the increased situation in May 2006, and, based on preliminary data from the UIC study and a formal survey of ophthalmology centers in 2007, launched a national outbreak investigation. Initial results revealed a risk that led CDC to issue a health advisory
www2a.cdc/HAN/ArchiveSys/ViewMsgV.asp?AlertNum=00260 a warning from the FDA fda/cdrh/safety/053107-acanthamoeba.html and the voluntary recall of the contact lens solution Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) Complete MoisturePlus on June 1, 2007 fda/oc/po/firmrecalls/amo05_07.html.

Timothy McMahon and Dr. Joel Sugar of the UIC department of ophthalmology and visual sciences; Robert Anderson, Mark Dworkin, Faith Davis and Leslie Stayner of the division of epidemiology and biostatistics, UIC School of Public Health; and Megan Shoff, Gregory Booton, and Paul Fuerst of the Ohio State University also contributed to the study.

Support for the study came from the UIC Campus Research Board and grants from the National Eye Institute, Prevent Blindness America and the Midwest Eye Banks, the Karl Cless Foundation and the American Optometric Foundation Ezell Fellowship.

For more information about UIC, visit

Contact: Jeanne Galatzer-Levy

University of Illinois at Chicago

Primary Component In Risk Of Falls For Older Adults Is Visual Field Loss

Visual field loss (specifically peripheral visual fields) is the primary vision component that increases the risk of falls, according to a study published this month in Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science, a peer-reviewed monthly publication of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

The authors of “Visual Field Loss Increases the Risk of Falls in Older Adults: The Salisbury Eye Evaluation” — Ellen Freeman, Beatriz Munoz, Gary Rubin and Sheila West — looked at deficits in different components of vision to see if any were more closely linked with falls than others. The study primarily took place at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore, MD.

For each 10 percent loss in the visual field, people in the study experienced an 8 percent higher chance of falling after adjustment for other risk factors for falls. For example, persons with bilateral glaucoma, who on average would miss 48 points in the total visual field, would have 46 percent higher odds of falling.

The researchers used data from 2,375 people who participated in the Salisbury Eye Evaluation (SEE) over 20 months. SEE tested visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, visual field and stereoacuity at baseline. Participants recorded falls on a calendar that they sent to SEE each month.

The authors found that visual fields were associated with the risk of falling, while the other three components, after adjustments for demographics, were not. When they looked at the central and peripheral fields together, only the peripheral visual field was statistically significant.

Dr Freeman and her colleagues speculate that visual field reduction is most likely related to the risk of falls, at least in part, because of its affects on postural stability and aspects of mobility, which in turn is linked with the ability to maneuver around objects.

The authors conclude that people with visual field loss may benefit from mobility training to navigate the environment more safely and reduce the risk of falling.

ARVO is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include more than 12,500 eye and vision researchers from over 70 countries. The Association encourages and assists research, training, publication and dissemination of knowledge in vision and ophthalmology. For more information, visit arvo/.

Source: Joanne Olson

Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

Category-Specific Brain Organization In Sighted And Blind Humans: No Experience Required

A new study finds a surprising similarity in the way neural circuits linked to vision process information in both sighted individuals and those who have been blind since birth. The research, published by Cell Press in the August 13th issue of the journal Neuron, reveals that category-specific localized activation of a critical part of the visual cortex does not require any prior visual experience and provides fascinating and valuable insight into the evolutionary history of the human brain.

The ability to recognize visually presented objects relies on a critical neural pathway called the ventral stream. Previous imaging studies of the human brain have demonstrated that the sight of nonliving objects, such as tools and houses, activates different regions within the ventral stream than the sight of living things, such as animals and faces. It is not known whether category-specific neural responses in the ventral stream depend on visual experience.

One way to answer this question is to explore whether category-specific activation of the ventral stream is observed in adults who have been blind since birth. Although previous research with blind humans has shown that tactile exploration of objects or imagery of object shape based on sound activates the ventral stream, it is not clear whether stimuli from different conceptual domains activate localized regions within the ventral stream.

“In particular, it is unknown whether individuals who are blind since birth will show differential responses in medial regions of the ventral stream when thinking about nonliving things,” says lead study author, Dr. Bradford Mahon, who is currently at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester. “Similarly, it is unknown whether, in the absence of visual experience, stimuli corresponding to living things will lead to differential responses in regions that show the same category preference in sighted individuals.”

Dr. Mahon and colleagues at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences (CIMeC) at the University of Trento, Italy, and Harvard University designed a study to test whether the medial-to-lateral organization of the ventral stream, reflecting preferences for nonliving-to-living stimuli, respectively, was present in individuals with no sight experience. Sighted and blind individuals performed a size judgment task where groups of words all belonging to the same category (nonliving or living) were presented and subjects were asked to think about the size of the first item and compare it to subsequent items. All of the individuals kept their eyes closed during the task.

“Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that the same regions of the ventral stream that show category preferences for nonliving stimuli and animals in sighted adults, show the same category preferences in adults who are blind since birth,” explains senior study author Dr. Alfonso Caramazza from the CIMeC and Harvard University. “Our findings suggest that the organization of the ventral stream innately anticipates the different types of computations that must be carried out over objects from different conceptual domains.”

Perhaps the most exciting possibility suggested by this research is that the functional organization of the human brain is strongly constrained by innate factors. The researchers discuss a theory in their article proposing that significant parts of the human brain are innately structured around a few domains of knowledge that were critical in humans’ evolutionary history, such as animals, conspecifics, and perhaps tools.

The researchers include Bradford Z. Mahon, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY; Stefano Anzellotti, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Jens Schwarzbach, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy; Massimiliano Zampini, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy; and Alfonso Caramazza, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

Cathleen Genova

Cell Press

Enrollment In Phase IIb Clinical Trial For I-vation™ TA (MK-0140) Suspended Pending Review Of Study Design By Merck & Co., Inc.

SurModics, Inc. (Nasdaq: SRDX), a leading provider of surface modification and drug delivery technologies to the healthcare industry, announced that Merck & Co., Inc. has informed the company that, in light of results reported in a recently published study comparing laser treatment and intravitreal injections of triamcinolone acetonide (TA) in patients with diabetic macular edema (DME), Merck is reevaluating the design of its Phase IIb clinical trial for I-vation™ TA. Pending this review, Merck is suspending enrollment of new patients in the Phase IIb clinical trial. The License and Research Collaboration Agreement with Merck continues, and other ongoing development programs with Merck are unaffected.

Merck’s Phase IIb clinical trial is intended to evaluate the safety and efficacy of SurModics’ I-vation TA in patients with DME. The suspension of the clinical trial follows the publication of a study sponsored by the National Eye Institute suggesting a benefit for laser treatment over intravitreal injections of TA. This recently published report does not discuss I-vation TA, nor did the study evaluate the safety or efficacy of sustained drug delivery systems.

“The decision to suspend enrollment in this clinical trial is based solely on the results reported in a recently published study comparing laser treatment and intravitreal injections of TA,” said Bruce Barclay, president and CEO of SurModics. “We believe the data from the Phase I and Phase IIb clinical trials generated to date provide support for the tolerability profile of I-vation TA, and more generally, that of the I-vation sustained delivery platform.”

Additionally, SurModics remains committed to its ongoing development programs with multiple other customers pursuing the development of products incorporating SurModics’ sustained delivery technologies, including the I-vation platform, for the treatment of diseases of the eye.

About SurModics, Inc.

SurModics, Inc. is a leading provider of surface modification and drug delivery technologies to the healthcare industry. SurModics partners with the world’s foremost medical device, pharmaceutical and life science companies to develop and commercialize innovative products that result in improved patient outcomes. Core offerings include: drug delivery technologies (coatings, microparticles, and implants); surface modification coating technologies that impart lubricity, prohealing, and biocompatibility capabilities; and components for in vitro diagnostic test kits and specialized surfaces for cell culture and microarrays. Collaborative efforts include a sustained drug delivery system in human trials for treatment of retinal disease and the drug delivery polymer matrix on the first-to-market drug-eluting coronary stent. SurModics is headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and its Brookwood Pharmaceuticals subsidiary is located in Birmingham, Alabama. For more information about the company, visit surmodics. The content of SurModics’ website is not part of this release or part of any filings the company makes with the SEC.

Safe Harbor for Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements. Statements that are not historical or current facts, including statements about beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties, and important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated, including the following: (1) realizing the full potential benefits of the company’s agreement with Merck & Co., Inc. requires the development of new products and applications of technology, and the successful management of clinical trials and related foreign and domestic regulatory processes; (2) costs or difficulties relating to the integration of the businesses of Brookwood Pharmaceuticals and BioFX Laboratories with SurModics’ business may be greater than expected and may adversely affect the company’s results of operations and financial condition; (3) developments in the regulatory environment, as well as market and economic conditions, and our reliance on third parties, may adversely affect our business operations and profitability, and the company’s ability to achieve our fiscal 2008 corporate goals and to realize the potential of our pipeline; and (4) other factors identified under “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2007, and updated in our subsequent reports filed with the SEC. These reports are available in the Investors section of our website at surmodics and at the SEC website at sec. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update them in light of new information or future events.

SurModics, Inc.

Eye Disease Experts Present New Research On Vision

The Alcon Research Institute (ARI) is holding its biennial symposium this weekend to review and discuss eye disease research completed by some of its newer, distinguished members. At this year’s symposium, ARI members will present and discuss groundbreaking research in glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinal vascular disease and genetics. There also will be a special presentation by the Steven M. Podos Colloquium, a group established by former ARI Secretary Dr. Gerald Cagle, on regenerative medicine for the eye.

“The Alcon Research Institute is proud to bring together and recognize the work of these world-class researchers and leaders in ophthalmology,” said Dr. Stanley Chang, chairman of the Alcon Research Institute, and Edward Harkness professor and chair of Ophthalmology at Columbia University. “It is a wonderful opportunity to gather at this symposium to discuss research that will affect our ability to save sight in the future.”

This year’s symposium will feature presentations by ARI members from world-renowned institutions such as The National Eye Institute, Duke University, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, Columbia University and the University of Regensburg, Germany. This will be the first time that 2007 and 2008 ARI Award recipients present the results of and insights from their cutting edge research. Awardees are nominated independently by former winners and voted on by an independent committee, made up solely of ARI members.

“It is an honor to host this event on Alcon’s Fort Worth campus,” said Sabri Markabi, MD, the newly appointed secretary of the ARI and chief medical officer for Alcon. “Having these world leaders in ophthalmology here promotes the exchange of ideas and the formation of collaborations to further the study of visual science.”

Since its inception in 1981, the ARI has granted approximately $22 million to 241 researchers in support of their research in ophthalmology. Many of these awardees also have been recognized with awards from other leading organizations, including the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), International Society for Eye Research (ISER) and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS).

About the Alcon Research Institute

The Alcon Research Institute (ARI) supports global advancements in eye health by honoring those who make outstanding research contributions to the vision sciences. The ARI aims to further the study of eye health and create ongoing partnerships with vision researchers around the world. Each year, the ARI identifies exemplary leaders in ophthalmic research and honors each with this prestigious award and a generous, unrestricted grant to fund ongoing research.

About Alcon

Alcon, Inc. (NYSE: ACL) is the world’s leading eye care company, with sales of approximately $6.3 billion in 2008. Alcon, which has been dedicated to the ophthalmic industry for 60 years, researches, develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment and devices, contacts lens care solutions and other vision care products that treat diseases, disorders and other conditions of the eye. Alcon’s majority shareholder is Nestl?�, S.A., the world’s largest food company.

Alcon, Inc.

The Mind’s Eye Scans Like A Spotlight

You’re meeting a friend in a crowded cafeteria. Do your eyes scan the room like a roving spotlight, moving from face to face, or do you take in the whole scene, hoping that your friend’s face will pop out at you? And what, for that matter, determines how fast you can scan the room?

Researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory say you are more likely to scan the room, jumping from face to face as you search for your friend. In addition, the timing of these jumps appears to be determined by waves of activity in the brain that act as a clock. The study, which appears in the Aug. 13 issue of the journal Neuron, sheds new light on a long-standing debate among neuroscientists over how the visual system picks out an object of interest in a complex scene.

In the study, monkeys were given the task of searching for one particular tilted, colored bar among a field of bars on a computer screen. By monitoring the activity of neurons in three of the animals’ brain regions, researchers found that the monkeys spontaneously shifted their attention in a sequence, like a moving spotlight that jumped from location to location.

What’s more, the study showed that brain waves act as a kind of built-in clock that provides a framework for shifting attention from one location to the next. The work could have implications for understanding or treating attention deficit disorder or even potentially speeding up the rate of cognition in the brain.

“For many years, neuroscientists have been debating competing theories on whether humans and animals spontaneously search elements of a visual scene in a serial or parallel manner,” said lead author Earl K. Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience. “Ours is the first study based on direct evidence of neurophysiological activity.”

Like clockwork

Activity in the brain comes and goes in waves, cycling between high and low activity states. Researchers have been recording brain waves for more than 100 years and although they think they play roles in working memory, decision-making and communication among brain regions, no one is sure of their exact role in brain function. This work suggests a new role for brain waves – one in which they are directly involved in the brain’s processing.

Picower Institute postdoctoral associate and co-author Timothy J. Buschman found that the spotlight of the mind’s eye shifted focus at 25 times a second and that this process of switching was regulated by brain waves. “This is one of the first examples of how brain waves play a specific role in cognitive computations,” Buschman said.

“Attention regulates the flood of sensory information pouring into the brain into a manageable stream. In particular, a lot of different areas of the brain are involved in vision. If they all competed at once, it would be chaos,” Miller said. “Brain waves may provide the clock that tells the brain when to shift its attention from one stimulus to another. Oscillating brain waves may provide a way for several regions across the brain to be on the same page at the same time – very similar to the way computers use an internal clock to synchronize the many different components inside.”

The researchers’ next step is to expand their search for brain wave function beyond the visual. They hope to discover whether brain waves are specific to visual function or act as a “general clock” for the brain.

The researchers have found that in the experiment with the monkeys, the speed at which the animals searched was related to the speed of their brain waves. When the clock ticked faster, the animals “thought” faster. This implies that it may be possible to change the speed of cognition if researchers can learn to artificially manipulate brain waves. In separate studies outside MIT, researchers are looking at the correlation between the brain waves’ “clock speed” in humans and the speed at which subjects shift attention from one task to another.

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Jen Hirsch

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Hope for Treatment of Age-Related Blindness

Rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with anti-inflammatory drugs are 10 times less likely to develop age-related
macular degeneration (AMD), the most common form of blindness in people over 55, researchers at the University of British
Columbia and University of Saskatchewan have found.

The study, recently published in the Neurobiology of Aging, is a joint effort of neurologist Dr. Patrick McGeer of UBC and
rheumatologist Dr. John Sibley of the U of S.

The scientists found that that rheumatoid arthritis patients being treated with anti-inflammatory drugs were 10 times less
likely to develop (AMD) than unaffected individuals in the United States, Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

“Age-related macular degeneration is like Alzheimer’s disease of the eye, with retinal deposits called drusen acting like
amyloid deposits in the brain found in Alzheimer’s,” says McGeer, a UBC professor emeritus in the Kinsmen Laboratory of
Neurological Research and expert in the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

The scientists reviewed 993 rheumatoid arthritis patients in Saskatchewan aged 65 years or older who, on average, had been
living with the condition since age 51. Only three had developed AMD, where about 30 cases could be expected in a
similarly-aged group from the general populace.

“It was natural for us to look at the rheumatoid arthritis population,” says Sibley, a U of S professor of medicine and head
of the division of rheumatology. “They have been followed closely for more than 40 years with particular attention paid to
retinal changes because medication widely used for rheumatoid arthritis can create visual problems.”

It is already accepted that NSAIDS reduce the incidence of bowel cancer. Fifteen years ago, McGeer and Sibley found the first
of a growing body of evidence that NSAIDS may also help reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s. However, Sibley says this is the
first time a link has been identified between anti-inflammatories and macular degeneration.

The researchers emphasize that further study is required to confirm their findings, but if they are corroborated,
anti-inflammatories would be the first approach for this intractable disease. Related questions such as optimum dosage and
when to begin treatment need to be answered. Also, since NSAIDS can have side effects such as stomach upset, ulcers and
stress on kidneys, they are not appropriate for everyone and criteria for high-risk patients that would benefit from their
use will need to be defined.

Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss in Canada, especially among the elderly, according to the
Canadian National Institute for the Blind. It causes one in three cases of reported vision loss. The condition causes
light-sensitive cells in the macula, or central portion of the retina, to degenerate. The macula is responsible for
perceiving fine visual detail. Early signs of macular degeneration include blurring of vision when performing detailed tasks
like reading or sewing.

AMD is the most common form of the disease and causes permanent loss of central vision. There are two forms of AMD – wet and
dry – with more than 85 per cent of cases being the dry form, for which there is no effective treatment.

McGeer and Sibley’s work was supported through the Arthritis, Rheumatism, and Aging Medical Information System (ARAMIS)
consortium through grants from the United States National Institutes of Health. Additional funding was provided through the
Jack Brown and Family Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation and the estate of George Hodgson.

Note: To view the paper, visit www.sciencedirect/science/journals, click on Neurobiology of Aging , Articles in Press. A PDF of the
study is available upon request.

Contact: Hilary Thomson
University of British Columbia

Bausch & Lomb Introduces The Crystalens® Aspheric Optic (AO) Lens

Bausch & Lomb announced that it is launching the Crystalens® AO, the first aberration-free accommodating intraocular lens (IOL) with aspheric optics, to cataract surgeons worldwide. The announcement follows the recent FDA approval of this newest Bausch & Lomb surgical product. The Crystalens AO, combined with the successful Crystalens HD and the Crystalens Five-0, will further establish Crystalens as the market leader in the premium IOL market.

The Crystalens AO has prolate aspheric surfaces and is designed to be free of spherical aberration. It is designed to improve retinal image quality without compromising depth of field and therefore provides greater quality of distance and intermediate vision.

“We are confident the Crystalens AO is an important addition to the Crystalens portfolio and along with Crystalens HD and Crystalens Five-0 will further establish Crystalens as the gold standard for quality of vision in the premium channel. Some surgeons might assume because the Crystalens has aspheric optics, depth of field will be reduced. However, our comprehensive testing demonstrates the opposite to be true. Not all aspheric lenses are created the same, and other aspheric IOLs have negative spherical aberration, which could reduce depth of field. The Crystalens AO has zero spherical aberration, and the combination of the Crystalens platform and AO optics work together to enhance depth of field,” said Andy Corley, global president, Surgical, Bausch & Lomb.

Crystalens is the only FDA-approved accommodating intraocular lens. Unlike a standard cataract replacement lens, Crystalens is designed to not only eliminate a patient’s cataract but to provide a full range of vision so that the patient can see near, far and everywhere in between. Many Crystalens patients hardly, if ever, need their glasses after surgery. The Crystalens AO takes the best of Bausch & Lomb’s heritage of aspheric optics and combines it with the company’s Crystalens platform.

“The Crystalens AO provides patients an opportunity to enjoy improved post-operative vision through an increase in contrast sensitivity due to the absence of spherical and higher order aberrations. This, along with the general consensus that the best technology for treatment of presbyopic patients is an accommodating lens, will encourage many surgeons to adopt this new product,” said Jay Pepose, MD, PhD, of the Pepose Vision Institute, St. Louis, Mo.

There are three million cataract surgeries every year in the U.S. A cataract is a clouding of the normal clear lens in the eye. When a cataract forms, the natural lens in the eye is replaced by an intraocular lens. The Crystalens is an intraocular lens that is designed not only to fix a patient’s cataract, but to help improve the patient’s full range of vision.

“We know that many surgeons prefer aspheric lenses because they believe that they correct for spherical aberrations and provide better quality of vision. We believe that the Crystalens AO will be viewed very favorably to competitive lenses and will be attractive to a wider range of surgeons and patients,” said Amy Jacobs, director of Global Marketing for the Crystalens.

The Crystalens AO is comprised of proprietary biosil silicone and has a thin and uninterrupted barrier edge. It will be inserted using the CI-28 injector in a controlled manner through an un-enlarged phaco incision which is a routine requirement in today’s cataract surgical procedure.

The Crystalens AO worldwide launch is expected to accelerate through the first quarter of 2010.

About Bausch & Lomb

Bausch & Lomb is dedicated to bringing visionary ideas to eye health. Its core businesses include contact lenses and lens care products, ophthalmic surgical devices and instruments, and ophthalmic pharmaceuticals. The Bausch & Lomb name is one of the best-known and most respected healthcare brands in the world. Founded in 1853, the company is headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., and employs more than 10,000 people worldwide.

Source: Bausch & Lomb