A New Hope for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

For years, innovators and ocular researchers have attempted to solve the issue of blindness caused by macular degeneration. Until recently, the outcome of this research has seen little meaningful treatment. However, a local startup is advancing the use of nanotechnology in developing retinal prostheses. Out of a worldwide pool of innovative startups and businesses, UC San Diego’s Nanovision was one of the seven entrepreneurial companies chosen to be featured at the Future in Review (FiRe) Conference in mid-October in Aspen, Colorado. FiReStarter is the annual conference that showcases technologically advanced companies for worldwide promotion.
Nanovision was chosen for its inventive use of nanotechnology in potentially treating patients with degenerative retinal disorders. These disorders are caused by the damaging of photoreceptor neurons that transmit light into neural signals. Retinal degeneration can be caused by a number of factors, ranging from age-related diseases to hereditary illnesses, and cancer. According to a review found in Eye and Vision,  “Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive blinding disease with no cure at present” that potentially prevents patients from performing basic visually-dependent tasks such as reading (1). While affecting 11 million individuals nationally and 170 million people globally, “AMD is thereby the leading cause of visual disability in the industrialized world and the third leading cause globally” (1).
“We have made rapid progress with the development of the world’s first nanoengineered retinal prosthesis as a result of the unique partnership we have developed with the team at UC San Diego,” said Nanovision CEO Scott Thorogood.
The startups at FiReStarters were chosen by Strategic News Services (SNS), an organization of technology investors trained to predict trends in upcoming achievements based on current global needs. According to the FiReStarter website, “these FiReStarter companies, which are integrated into the FiRe program, are on the cusp of making great strides in improving our world. They are businesses we hope to follow for a very long time.”  Companies chosen to be promoted at FiReStarters will maintain relationships with the organization for follow-up reviews.
The biologically compatible device is surgically implanted in the space created by degenerated photoreceptors, between the retinal pigment epithelium and neural retina.
Read more: http://innovation.ucsd.edu/2018/11/16/new-hope-age-related-macular-degeneration/
Source: UC San Diego
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