My New Career?

Not to belabor a point, but today did start as a rather poopy day. We had our first snow overnight. Just a couple of inches but it was the puppygirls’ first snow. My theory is this: when they went out and squatted to poop, they got cold, wet bottoms. Go inside and poop? No cold, wet bottom. Problem solved!

Of course, since my husband was first on scene and got to clean it up, he was NOT a happy camper. Not a good start to the day.

Then there was the snow itself. Getting to my eye appointment is a 90 mile trip one way. My husband does not like city driving and he does not like driving in the snow. Once more he was not a happy camper.

It is hard to explain to some people why we have been dutifully driving 90 miles one way, every six months just to be told my eyes are worse. “Please pay your copay.” For those kind of results, I could go five miles down the road!

However, it is all part of a master plan. I have real problems with defeat. Real problem being told there is no answer. If you cannot supply me with an answer, I will find someone who can!

So here I am, running to see Regillo every six months for the past two years….and I think I am getting closer!

First the good news/bad news. Or, in this case, bad news/good news. Although I find it hard to believe, I have fallen down below 20/400 acuity. Bizarre because I don’t feel blind and don’t think I function as a blind woman.. After all, I got the “you don’t look blind!” routine just last month.

However, the good news on that is my vision is now so bad, I can satisfy the truly awful vision requirement for the Astellas’ study that is supposed to launch in March! Regillo referred me again. Is this time four or time five? I have sincerely lost count. [Lin/Linda: I put the details to that study in Sue’s page The Waiting Game.]

He has also put me on the list for APL-2 which is supposed to go into phase 3 clinicals sometime in 2018. He started to offer me “something else” when we were talking about lamp stuff (which is apparently very dead in the water) and I surprised him by knowing exactly where he was going. Working on being memorable. I want my name at the top of the list. [Lin/Linda: Sue wrote about APL-2 in her page My Friend in Manila?]

Also thinking I may be getting closer because I got a new test today. They ran me on the autofluorescence test. This test uses a very bright light. When the image is examined, the areas of the macula that are already dead are black and the areas that are in distress shine. My eye probably lit up like a Christmas tree. If that gets me into a study and gets this stuff stopped? Good.

So, that is where we are. I got a new test. I chose to be hopeful it means they want more information for my new career as a lab rat! Regillo generally seemed positive. Maybe I will be going to Philadelphia.

Written Dec. 14th, 2017 Continue reading “My New Career?”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
My New Career?
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Three Types of Wet AMD

Well, the kitchen floor is now mopped. Took a deep breath and went back into the housekeeping fray after that last page. How do people get motivated for that sort of thing every day?

With a nod to our ‘wet’ readers, I am going to tackle an article on how to image different types of neovascularization. Not sure I am going to get very far because I never even ‘knew’ there were different types of choroidal neovascularization.

First off, to the article talking about imaging retinal angiomatous proliferation. Huh? Back to EyeWiki.

Choroidal neovascularization starts in the choroid. It erodes through the RPEs and results in chorioretinal anastomosis. Anastomosis? Lovely. Anastomosis is the connection of two vessels that were not previously connected. Sort of like a shunt. Got it? Good; moving on.

Retinal angiomatous proliferation is a process that happens ‘backwards’. It starts in the retina and progresses into the subretinal areas. It eventually connects the retina and choroid by forming an anastomosis. That is a connection where there is not supposed to be one. See previous paragraph.

Retinal angiogenesis proliferation has been called type 3 neovascularization. This begs the question: what are types 1 and 2? Type 3 is rare with 10% to 20% of people with wet AMD having this type of disease. This may be a good thing because the article lists all sorts of complications that are common in type 3 but rare in the other two types.

So now I have to do a little more digging and find neovascularization types 1 and 2. Back to EyeWiki where I discovered this: In type 1 the new veins are below the RPE layer. In type 2 the neovascularization passes through the RPE layer and compromises the neurosensory retina. That means it gets far enough to directly mess with the photoreceptors. Type 1 is hidden and type 2 is classic.

As far as treatment is concerned, ResearchGate.net (7/15) suggests type 1 can be treatment resistant. My guess – please note this is a guess – would be this is because type 1 is ‘buried’ in lower regions of the eye and anti-VEGF may have a harder time getting to it. That buried nature of type 1 – and another article – makes me think what we are talking about here is the occult type. Saw that classification before. Just needed to make the connection. Dawn does occasionally breaks over Marblehead.

Anyway, anti-VEGF treatments are still first choice although I am starting to see references to photodynamic therapy (“cold laser”) and even surgery. Maybe we should look into that, too.

Type 2 is the classic type. My reading suggests ‘shots’ are the treatment of choice there.

And as far as type 3 is concerned, it appears that in spite of the complications reported, type 3 can be treated rather successfully. Anti-VEGF injections do the trick, sometimes even on the first try.

So there you are the three types of wet AMD. Learn something new everyday.

written October 24th, 2017 Continue reading “Three Types of Wet AMD”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 5.00/5
Three Types of Wet AMD
Total Avg Rating: 5.00 out of 5 with based on 1 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Progress Daily

I really cannot win with this transportation business. Now they are on a string of late pick-ups and I am waltzing in 45 minutes after everyone else. Grrrrrrrrrr!

Oh well, can’t fix it. Time to start a page…..and as soon as I am into it, they will show up. Same concept as going to the bathroom in the restaurant to ‘make’ your meal arrive faster.  Aha! Recognition! You have done that, too!

PRELUDE, the study, is NCT02659098. I checked and this is the same study I put my name in for last year. I just shot off a message to my research contact and asked her to make sure my ‘registration’ is still good. I am nothing if I am not persistent. Sad to say it is one of my better traits (oh no!)

There are actually two, main measurable outcomes they are interested in. There are the efficacy of the delivery system and best corrected acuity after administration of the stem cells. In the clinicaltrials.gov post they refer to the stem cells as CNTO 2476. In other literature they named the stem cells Palucorcel.  I guess it is better than George (with apologies to the royal family. I have never liked the name George, although the little guy is a cutie!) Of course, Palucorcel does not exactly fall trippingly off the tongue.

Anyway, according to a one page write-up by Jessica Lynch, previous attempts to circumvent the vitreous and go in subretinally caused too many problems. They are, as I had been led to believe previously, trying to go around to the macula using the suprachoroidal space as their passage. (Anyone ever see Fantastic Voyage? I keep thinking how incredible it would be to jump in my microscopic submarine and motor through the suprachoroidal space!) After preclinical trials with mini pigs were successful, they launched into prime time with a phase 1 trial with people. As I said, they are now recruiting for phase 2. [Sue wrote about subretinal and suprachoroidal are in the previous page: Secret Passages in the Eyeball

Looking at the additional data on clinical trials.gov I discovered there are secondary outcomes for the study. They will be looking at quality of life and reading speed as well as whether the stem cell transplants slow or even stop the growth of the geographic atrophy. They are also looking at how many people convert to wet AMD. It sounds as if this study would be a long term commitment for the ‘lab rats’ chosen.

Going back to the Medscape article about phase 1, I discovered they had pretty good success threading through the space and the transplanted cells grew and started to function.

Cell placement was important. They used the microperimetry to figure out what retinal areas the subjects were using for eccentric viewing. Too close and that could be messed up. Cell placement other places was better.

Results? The subjects had some improvement in vision. That was SOME. Before you get too excited, remember this is RPE replacement. RPEs do not see. They support your photoreceptors. Some of the photoreceptors that are at death’s door may come back but the dead ones stay dead.

I did run off the journal write-up on phase 1 and I promise to tackle it and see if there were any other cool findings. Later. Right now I have laundry to sort. Maybe listen to an NCIS episode. It is now playing all the way through on my tablet!  What can I say? It really is the little things.

Progress daily, guys. Progress daily. We will get there.

written October 17th, 2017 Continue reading “Progress Daily”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 5.00/5
Progress Daily
Total Avg Rating: 5.00 out of 5 with based on 1 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Our Turn is Coming

Happy Monday! Waiting for the van again so forgive me if I run off abruptly.

Back to the pink of health. I revised my evaluation and decided it was food poisoning….again?!?! My dining companion ate her leftovers and also got sick as the proverbial dog.

I was well enough yesterday to accept an invitation to go kayaking. Said if before, say it again, weird weather. There was some guy jet skiing on October 16th! Anyway, it was fantastic to be on the river. Warm breeze. Birds calling. Fishermen shouting greetings across the water. Kids on the bank asking me if it were nice out there. Yeah. It was. Really nice.

To business! I promised you RPE65. The Genetic Home Reference tells us RPE65 is also called retinoid isomerhydrolase. Yeah, whatever. RPE65. RPE65 is responsible for providing instructions for a protein we need to see. It is, obviously, part of the RPE layer.

As I said last time, RPE65 is essential in the visual cycle. Light changes a special molecule called 11-cis into a different substance. Since it is no longer any good for changing light into electricity in its new form, it has to be ‘recharged’ so it can go back to work. That is the job of RPE65.

With me so far?

Failure to convert the end product of the reaction – referred to as all-trans-retinal – leads to a build-up of said all-trans retinal as a waste product and a toxin. In my terminology, it is part of the eye poop. Your visual cycle also stops working. Not good.

Now, I am not saying we AMD folks have problems with faulty RPE65 genes. (Although we might. I am only a dabbler in the field.) Those mutations are found in diseases like Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP). What I am saying is every breakthrough in one aspect of vision research might lead to breakthroughs in other areas and – drum roll please! – there has been a breakthrough!

Not all that far away from me, in the City of Brotherly Love, also known to us country folk as ‘Filthydelphia’, Philadelphia to all you other folks, they have found a way to ‘reprogram’ faulty RPE65 genes using gene therapy. Philadelphia is on a roll because this is the second gene therapy its researchers have had recommended for approval. That is the second of two, mind you, EVER recommended for approval by the FDA. Philly researchers have gotten them both. One more and they will have a hat trick! (Go, Flyers!….OK, so their decades were the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, but it could happen again.)

The first gene therapy recommended for approval was for leukemia. The visual cycle gene therapy is called Luxerna. It is going to be offered to children with early onset blindness in a bid to keep their photoreceptors functional. It has a very high success rate and is still working in phase 1 subjects from four years ago! [click here for an article that talks about this in more detail.]

So what happens now? Luxerna has been cleared to take the final hurdles. According to FDA.gov there are three more steps in a 12 step process. These steps are as follows: review of labeling information, inspection of manufacturing sites, APPROVAL.

Brave New World. Stay tuned. Our turn is coming.

written October 16th, 2017 Continue reading “Our Turn is Coming”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 5.00/5
Our Turn is Coming
Total Avg Rating: 5.00 out of 5 with based on 1 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Secret Passages in the Eyeball

Back again. Chatty sort, ain’t I? ? I really thought I was done for awhile but I keep finding things; ya know? If (should I even use the word ‘if’?) you are tired of hearing me chatter, please write a page! We are anxious for more offerings. [Lin/Linda: if you haven’t read the pages by our guest authors, click here to see what we are talking about.]

Back to the topic at hand (I am not only chatty, but I go off on tangents, a lot of tangents??☝ ) the most recent thing to land in my inbox is a Medscape article Lin sent me. We are back to the stem cell research!

This article uses a lot of the concepts and vocabulary we have introduced over the months. I will review as we go along – I don’t remember it all myself! – and Lin might help us out with some links to previous pages. Pretty please and thank you.  [I think the best place to learn about stem cells is a short YouTube video.   Also, check out Sue’s early page Research.]

I am signed up for a Janssen Pharmaceutical study with stem cells. Guess who did this study? Do you ever feel LEFT OUT? Once again, I would love to know how to get on the A list for these things. Not sure all the places the study happened, though. One place was Kentucky. Maybe I was a ‘geographic undesirable’? I will have to do a little research after hip hop. (Some things do take precedence!?)

OK. Here we go. I looked up PRELUDE, etc and got routed to Clinical trials.gov. It is only going into phase 2 but the good news is they are recruiting. The better news is they are recruiting at Mid Atlantic Retina, Regillo’s place. Now I am getting stoked. “Watson!…The game is afoot!”

Shoot off an email later and get ready to accost Regillo when I see him in December. One other person who is only starting to realize the depths of my tenacity! (Cue Vincent Price laughter!)

OK. Enough nonsense….for now?. From the looks of things, PRELUDE was a study checking, for at least one thing, the feasibility of a delivery system. If you recall, we talked about ways of delivering stem cells to the back of the eye where they belong before. No just shooting them into the vitreous fluid where they roll around like loose cannon balls and end up who knows where. No, no, no! They must be placed. The way they are placed is to thread them through the subretinal space.

Now I am thinking the suprachoroidal space and the subretinal space are the same thing but I really don’t know. [The title of the article I linked to above is “Subretinal Delivery of Cells via the Suprachoroidal Space: Janssen Trial”.] How many ‘secret passages’ can an eyeball have? Be that as it may, the whole idea is to snake through this space (or spaces?) and get to the back of the eyeball without violating the integrity of the vitreous and opening it to infection.

The progress of the implanted cells in this study was checked with microperimetry. This appears to be an up and coming imagining technique we also talked about. It is a technique that tests which parts of the retina are working and how well they are actually working.

Which brings me to my word limit and bedtime. I have been to hip hop and back and need to take a bath and get ready for bed.

I did find what I think is the original journal article for this as well as the clinicaltrials.gov listing. I will follow up….tomorrow.

written October 16th, 2017 Continue reading “Secret Passages in the Eyeball”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 5.00/5
Secret Passages in the Eyeball
Total Avg Rating: 5.00 out of 5 with based on 1 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Eye Poop Reduction

Looking for information on therapies that slow the vision cycle. Got all sorts of things on slowing traffic for safer cycling.

While I am all for fewer car/bicycle accidents, that is not exactly what I had in mind!

Back to Wikipedia, I discovered the visual cycle is the process through which light is transformed into electrical signals. If you have a penchant for chemistry, I refer you to the Wikipedia article. Social scientist here! As far as I am concerned…then there is magic!

Part of this magic includes having three different types of cone cells that respond to three, different wavelengths of light. By taking stock of the strength and blending of the stimuli from these three, types of cone cells, we are able to see color! Cool! Although my guess would have been the primary colors, the colors they detect are actually red, blue and green. Why? Dunno. Magic.

But back on track, visual cycle…

Since the job of RPEs is not only to feed the photoreceptors but also to clean up after them, RPEs have to be able to tolerate a lot of…uh, poop. (Gee, maybe I am just a big RPE! I feel like I deal with that stuff all the time!) When there is too much poop for them to handle, we get, among other problems, drusen.

Janet Sparrow in Therapy for Macular Degeneration: Insight from Acne (catchy title?) said “it is the responsibility of the RPE to internalize the membranous debris discharged daily by the photoreceptor cell.” In other words, they eat eye poop. Unfortunately, some of the molecules in the poop are toxic (as if eating eye poop was not bad enough) and not at all good for the RPEs or surrounding cells.

The theory goes something like this: Less eye poop would make life easier for the RPEs. While we cannot get rid of all the eye poop – after all it is a byproduct of what we want: sight – maybe we can reduce the volume of how much poop we actually have to deal with. If we slow down the chemical processes involved in sight maybe we can produce less poop and thus see for a longer period of time.

They are checking out that theory right now. Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) advertised for subjects for a phase 2 (proof of concept) clinical trial of ACU-4429, a “visual cycle modulator”. For our purposes, read “eye poop reduction strategy”.

FFB also published a one page blurb about Fenretinide. Fenretinide has successfully completed phase 2 clinical trials and is on the way to phase 3. They are hopeful it will slow down the visual cycle in those with dry AMD. The slowing should lead to fewer lesions in dry AMD and fewer cases of wet AMD.

Oh, and that chemistry I referred to earlier? I might actually have to understand some of it. Oy. In the visual cycle there is a pigment-y sort of thing called 11-cis. Helping the light signal along its way to become sight causes a chemical change in the 11-cis. In order to get changed back to its original form so it can do its job again and not contribute to the eye poop problem, 11-cis needs help from several molecules, one of which is REP65. REP65. Remember that name. It may be an up-and comer.

written October 14th, 2017 Continue reading “Eye Poop Reduction”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 5.00/5
Eye Poop Reduction
Total Avg Rating: 5.00 out of 5 with based on 1 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Important Cells

You would think that after saying I was running out of ideas, I would have the good grace to actually run out of ideas and shut up. You should be so lucky!? [Lin/Linda: =I= should be so lucky! ::grin::]

A comment was made suggesting we may have fostered some misinformation. We have stressed the idea of retinal pigment epithelial (RPEs) cells supporting the photoreceptors in the macula so much we may have given some people the impression the RPEs are only under the macula. This is not true. RPEs are under all of the photoreceptors and support all vision, not just central vision.

Once again my very erudite source, Wikipedia (I did print out another article but it is long and involved and I can probably get three or four pages out of it. Do you really want that?) reports the RPE layer was first discovered back in the late 1700s, early 1800s. It was noted to be black in color in many animals but brown in humans. This is because this single layer of hexagonal shaped cells is chock full of – all together now! – pigment. The RPE layer wraps around the back of the eye and ends practically at the iris.

We have talked about a couple of the functions of the RPEs. They are there to feed and clean up after the prima donna photoreceptors – both central cones and more peripheral rods – that apparently cannot do things for themselves.

Something I had not heard of before but makes sense is RPEs, as the conduit from the bloodstream to the interior of the eye, are also the gatekeepers. RPEs are at least partially responsible for the immune privilege of the eye. Remember we talked about how the eye is such a great place to do stem cell experiments because the immune response is so weak? Part of that weakness is due to the great jobs the RPEs usually do. They block bad things entering our eyes from the rest of our system.

RPEs gather up scattered light to make images sharper. That also keeps the light from causing extra oxidative stress.

Simply put the visual cycle is the amount of time as well as all the steps it takes for pigment in the photoreceptors to be depleted and then build back up again. The RPEs do much to control this.

Lastly, the RPEs produce signalling molecules that ‘talk’ to different parts of the system. Lots of very important functions for a one-cell thick layer of cells.

Age-related macular degeneration is not the only condition that causes vision loss due to malfunctions involving the RPEs. A more common one you may heard of is retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Their losses start in the periphery and progress inwards. Those with RP go blind. That’s BLIND. Maybe we ARE the lucky ones.

Do I know why our deterioration generally stops at the macula? Nope, but I have it on good authority it usually does. Usually does not mean 100% guarantee. Just usually. It is the best that I can do.

written October 10th, 2017

Continue reading “Important Cells”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Important Cells
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me