Blind World

Retinal Degeneration.
Spinach-based pigments can cure some forms of blindness.

May 04, 2004.


A research team at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee has proposed a truly extraordinary cure for some forms of blindness.

The idea is to add light-absorbing pigments from spinach to nerve cells in the retina to make the nerve cells fire when struck by light.

The team headed by Dr.Eli Greenbaum has been exploring this possibility for several years. According to a report in New Scientist,in their latest experiments, the researchers have shown that adding plant pigments to human cells makes the cells respond to light.

This technique will be successful in tackling degenerative diseases of the retina such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration, which are the most common forms of blindness in the developed countries.

"Taking our cue from these clinical results, we aim to replace voltage stimulation by electrodes with voltage stimulation by the photosystem I reaction centers," says Greenbaum.

After a successful experiment of inserting PSI centers isolated from spinach into the membranes of fatty spheres called liposomes, which are used to deliver drugs or genes to cells, Greenbaum's team has now used the liposomes to add the PSI complexes to membranes of eye cancer cells called retinoblastomas.

When the cells were exposed to light, calcium ion channels opened up in the membrane.

The results, show that adding PSI centers does at least make cells respond to light. (ANI)

2000-2004 Suni System (P) Ltd.

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