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Algae May Help Reverse Blindness 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-good-day-for-eyes dept.
Anonymous coward writes ""Could a protein from algae help reverse blindness? Blind mice were able to respond to light after researchers inserted a green algae protein into retinal nerve cell membranes that normally aren't sensitive to light, according to a U.S. study," as reported by Forbes. There are more details at the Neurodudes blog, which includes a description of the novel method, which can convert any cell - nerve, muscle, etc. - into a light-sensing cell."
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Algae May Help Reverse Blindness

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  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @04:23AM (#15074239) Homepage
    When can I get eyes in the back of my head?
    • by mcc (14761)
      Combine

      this [slashdot.org]

      with

      this [slashdot.org]

      and if everything goes right, maybe we'll at least be moving in that direction?
    • I think a spoon, a tube of glue, some tape and a friend to help would do the trick!
      I also recommend adding dry macaroni tubes and glitter for a nose and happy smile!
    • That is not cool enough, until you can have them at the end of tentacles mounted on your back. Thats definitively it. I think we should work for that....
    • Do you want them working as advertised?
    • While you meant to be funny (and it is) , you did touch upon a valid point.
      This is a little offtopic.. but anyways ..
      Having eyes on the back of the head would have been a very simple way of saving you life.. if you were living the forest i.e.

      For most of the cattle/deer etc, it doesnt really matter since they have around 270 degree vision due to bulging and diametric eyes (along with the fact that they graze in groups).

      But for many of the other creatures, for ex primates/birds etc, their eyes dont have the w
      • >Cant guess why this did not come as an evolutionary advantage though? Just one light sensing organ in the back of the head would have saved quite a bit of lives indeed.

        Why? Why is obvious: it's unnecessary. Humans and other primates have binocular vision, probably originally to help in brachiation, moving from tree limb to tree limb. No big cats up there jumping on our backs, so unnecessary to have eyes in the back of our heads. Then when we came down from the trees, we lived mostly in open savannha. Le
  • Implants (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KiloByte (825081) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @04:25AM (#15074248)
    Well, but how does this compare to the nice infrared/ultraviolet/X-ray vision thingies [slashdot.org]?

    Ah, the choice...
    • Hmmm natural cells in your eye than can detect light or "a power source, a camera of sorts, a computational element, and an array of electrodes that can crank out precise, well-timed current pulses" (from tfa)... is that really a choice??
      • natural cells in your eye than can detect light or "a power source, a camera of sorts, a computational element, and an array of electrodes that can crank out precise, well-timed current pulses" (from tfa)... is that really a choice??

        You're right, of course.

        Bring on the camera; zoom lens for me, please, and an external video input too!
        • Re:Implants (Score:1, Offtopic)

          by MichaelSmith (789609)
          and an external video input too!

          You know that it will have to have DRM built into it, otherwise there is a risk you could remember movies in hi-rez and the entire structure of the entertainment industry would collapase and it would all be your fault.

    • Re:Implants (Score:3, Informative)

      by vadim_t (324782)
      The algae would probably be MUCH better.

      I saw a TV program about these implants some time ago. For that particular patent, vision was in a 16x16 matrix (IIRC), black/white only, and not all the pixels worked.

      The effective vision obtained from that wasn't much. Got the ability to notice sources of light, and when standing on the street the ability to determine whether there's a building in front. On the show the patient commented she hoped to be able to see her husband's outline and was disappointed she didn
    • As the sibling poster noted, that system doesn't work as well as it could. It gave the users visual cues, but not enough to really understand what they were or how to make sense of them. But, research is continuing.

      Still, if you look at this from a futurist's point of view, once these implants will work, what stops them from making consumer ones that do any number of useful or frivolous things? Talk about true 3-D... (cue adult industry comment).
  • by ian_mackereth (889101) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @04:51AM (#15074314) Journal
    While they had the visually challenged rodents available, one of the female researchers has conducted further experiments involving removal of their tails to see what effect this has on their running speed.
  • I'm reminded of the story Green Patches by Asimov. Is this stage one of a very frightening change to life on Earth?
  • Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Step Child (216708) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @07:12AM (#15074636) Homepage
    Here [neuron.org]'s a link to the paper from Neuron.
  • by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @07:20AM (#15074657)
    Pardon my poor neuro-knowledge, but if you made a cell or a membrane lightsensitive that normally isn't, how would the brain interpret this signal? I don't think that you'd suddenly be able to see out of that area (loosly defining seeing as sensing light, kind of like when you close your eyelids but still can tell lights are moving around outside it.) Wouldn't the brain misinterpret the signals as whatever it normally recieves from that area, just based on the connection history of the neurons? Maybe it would eventually reroute the infromation to the sight portion of the brain.

    Reguardless, this could provide a number of interesting research opportunities to further our knowledge of the brain as well as visual systems.
    • That's the odd thing about the human brain. It's normally very good at working out how to interpret incoming data, given enough time to get used to it. There's even been some success in using a grid of electrodes on the abdomen to simulate vision in blind people, using a camera to work out how much power to give each one.
      • That's the odd thing about the human brain. It's normally very good at working out how to interpret incoming data, given enough time to get used to it. There's even been some success in using a grid of electrodes on the abdomen to simulate vision in blind people...

        If the "paranormal" reports of people who are able to "read" by sweeping their fingers and/or feet over text are credible, perhaps these kinds of photosensitive cells are the mechanism? It would not constitute "vision" per se, but perhaps the brai
        • If the "paranormal" reports of people who are able to "read" by sweeping their fingers and/or feet over text are credible, perhaps these kinds of photosensitive cells are the mechanism? It would not constitute "vision" per se, but perhaps the brain can, at least, decode the patterns of color changes across a surface with a fidelity sufficient to recognize and comprehend letterforms.
          The general "scientific" explanation used is that the people are sensing the slight difference in heat between the black lett
    • Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) normally take input from a range of photoreceptors and pass this down the chain to the visual cortex. I imagine this replacement therapy would result in a much more grainy image, but one that the brain can adapt to.
    • Interestingly there were a number of studies (New Scientist has an article about it - probably a year ago) where blind people are able to "see" after a bit of training by using special electronic devices that transmit a message to their TONGUE! So perhaps by zapping this into various areas of the body the brain will be able make visual images from hitherto underutilized body parts. My mind boggles at the possibilities.
  • "There are more details at the Neurodudes blog, which includes a description of the novel method, which can convert any cell - nerve, muscle, etc. - into a light-sensing cell."

    How about skin? An awareness of everything around you would rock. Also reminds me of a story I heard about someone having magnetic implanted so they could sense magnetic fields.

    It'd be a good excuse to wear my hair in bunches with my undercut [wikipedia.org], anyway ;)
  • Between this and this [slashdot.org]. It's a good time to be blind. Maybe blindness soon wont be the curse it once was.
  • No way! We want the cool tech described earlier today, not some slimy algae!
  • Ugly vision (Score:2, Funny)

    by Marce1 (201846)
    Getting eyesight in extra body areas could become like getting tattoes today - some people might get covered, some stay 'clean'. I expect there would be common areas to get done, and some a bit more saucy..

    Hind-sight could become a type of vision best avoided.
    • Unless there is some light focussing organ/device over light sensitiv cells, like the eye structure focussing light to the retina, there is little use of sensing bare ambiant light with random unsorted photons. Skin tissue is able to sense infrared light, but it can hardly distinguish direction, wavelength or shapes from that.
      While Re/enabling visible light sensitivity to a deffective retina do bring hopes of some possible blindness cures, this will have no effect on other eye deffects/illnesses of the opti
  • This good news for most slashdotters. Sitting in front of a computer, surfing for porn all day, and jackin' it is the leading cause of blindness in slashdotters. Because as their mother always tells them jerkin' off will make them go blind. Please give the Algae Fund today.
  • Now I can grow eyes on my other head. Then I won't have roll her in flour to find the wet spot!
  • This algae is in contrast to the eye fungus [google.com] going around that can cause blindness.
  • What, is the implant [slashdot.org] made out of algae?
  • "Reverse Blindness"? Sounds like something from a Terry Pratchett novel. Is that like where you see too much, or too hard?

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