Research Report: ‘Smart contact lens’ gives insights into glaucoma
By Lynne Friedmann
UCSD Shiley Eye Center has launched the first large-scale U.S. clinical trials of a futuristic “smart contact lens” that measures internal eye pressure — a key risk factor for glaucoma, the second leading cause of preventable blindness in the world.
Though the causes of glaucoma remain murky, high intraocular pressure (IOP) or excessive pressure within the eye appears to be causal in many individuals, promoting painless deterioration of the optic nerve. Accessing a patient’s risk of glaucoma is currently limited to an occasional pressure reading and tests during an eye exam.
Smart contact lens (called Triggerfish) continuously measure IOP within the eye via a circular strain gauge, antenna, and a microprocessor to wirelessly transmits data.
Patients in the study wear the Triggerfish for a 24-hour period, every six of so months, then discard the lenses. From this monitoring, doctors seek to obtain a detailed description of a patient’s IOP and eye health. News release at bit.ly/mWkJX8.
Mapping plant protein interactions
An international team, that includes the Salk Institute of Biological Research scientists, report the mapping and early analyses of thousands of protein-to-protein interactions within the cells of Arabidopsis thaliana — a variety of mustard that is to plant biology what the lab mouse is to human biology.
The four-year study doubled the plant protein-interaction data available to scientists. Researchers hope that this and future studies will lead to advancements in understanding plant biology and putting that knowledge to use for human benefit: making agricultural plants more resistant to drought and diseases, more nutritious, and generally more useful.
Even as a preliminary step the new map is useful. For example, researchers were able to sort protein interaction pairs they found into functional groups, revealing networks and “communities” of proteins that work together.
Finding reported in the journal Science. News release at bit.ly/n9wP53.
Combining cancer therapies
Approximately 5 to 10 percent of patients with primary or metastatic cancer suffer from devastating neurological complications such as headaches, seizures, confusion, difficulty swallowing and visual disturbances due neoplastic meningitis: a life-threatening form of brain invasion from cancer. Researchers at the UCSD School of Medicine and colleagues have utilized a novel combined technique to treat the condition and at the same time relief pressure from spinal fluid build-up (hydrocephalus), the result of cancer cells infiltrating the spaces within the brain, preventing the flow and absorption of spinal fluid.
By inserting an externally operated “off-on” valve — a small plastic device –— chemotherapy can be delivered directly to the brain’s surfaces and excess fluids drained to the abdomen via a thin internal catheter.
The results are reported in the Journal of Neurosurgery. News release at bit.ly/rn5iCB.
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