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Scientists Find Melanoma of the Eye Caused by Two Gene Mutations PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Thursday, 05 June 2014

Uveal MelanomaResearchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a therapeutic target for treating the most common form of eye cancer in adults. They have also, in experiments with mice, been able to slow eye tumor growth with an existing FDA-approved drug. The findings are published online in the May 29 issue of the journal Cancer Cell.

"The beauty of our study is its simplicity," said Kun-Liang Guan, PhD, professor of pharmacology at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and co-author of the study. "The genetics of this cancer are very simple and our results have clear implications for therapeutic treatments for the disease."

The researchers looked specifically at uveal melanoma. Uveal collectively refers to parts of the eye, notably the iris, that contain pigment cells. As with melanoma skin cancer, uveal melanoma is a malignancy of these melanin-producing cell.

If the cancer is restricted to just the eye, the standard treatment is radiation and surgical removal of the eye. But uveal melanoma often spreads to the liver, and determining the metastatic status of the disease can be difficult. In cases of uveal melanoma metastasis, patients typically succumb within two to eight months after diagnosis.

Scientists have long suspected a genetic association with uveal melanoma because one of two gene mutations is present in approximately 70 percent of all tumors. Until this study, however, they had not identified a mechanism that could explain why and how these mutations actually caused tumors.

The work by Guan and colleagues unravels the causal relationship between the genetic mutations and tumor formation, and identifies a molecular pathway along which drugs might counterattack.

The two genes implicated - GNAQ and GNA11 - code for proteins (known as G proteins) that normally function as molecular on-off switches, regulating the passage of information from the outside to the inside of a cell.

In their experiments, the scientists showed that mutations in these genes shift the G proteins to a permanent "on" or active status, which results in over-activation the Yes-associated protein (YAP). The activation of the YAP protein induces uncontrolled cell growth and inhibits cell death, causing malignancies.

Earlier research by other scientists has shown that the drug verteporfin, used to treat abnormal blood vessel formation in the eye, acts on the YAP pathway inhibiting the protein's YAP function.

In experiments with mice, the UC San Diego-led team showed that verteporfin also suppresses the growth of uveal melanoma tumors derived from human tumors. An untreated uveal melanoma tumor (left side of picture) covers entire eye of a mouse. A tumor treated with verteporfin (right side of picture) is much smaller and much of the structure of the mouse's eye is visible.

"We have a cancer that is caused by a very simple genetic mechanism," Guan said. "And we have a drug that works on this mechanism. The clinical applications are very direct."

 
Australian Startup To Launch "Never Lose" Eyewear PDF
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Product News
Wednesday, 04 June 2014

Australian startup company Tzukuri is set to launch "Never Lose" eyewear by the end of this year. If you leave your Tzukuris glasses behind, an smartphone app will automatically send you an alert at 16 ft (5m) and you will receive further alerts at 32ft (10m) and 50ft (15m) unless you clear the notification. The app intelligently turns off alerts when you are at home or at work. The technology is based on Apple's  iBeacons and embedded in glasses almost invisibly. Initially, the app will only be available in the Apple Store. The glasses are also solar powered so you never have to charge it.

Tzukuri Never Lose Eyewear

Every pair of Tzukuris is handmade by the world's best eyewear artisans in Japan. Each pair takes up to 3 weeks to make and goes through nearly 100 steps and 8 quality control checks before they’re finished. The glasses are expected to retail for AUD $349.

 
Major Fines for Roche and Novartis in Italy PDF
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International News
Tuesday, 03 June 2014

The Italian government is seeking EUR 1.2 billion in damages from drug companies Novartis and Roche for losses that it says the national health service incurred from the companies' efforts to restrict competition in ophthalmic drugs.

The Italian Health Ministry said that the two drugmakers colluded to direct patients with an eye disorder to a more expensive medicine. That resulted in damages to the Italian health system of EUR 45 million in 2012, EUR 540 million last year and EUR 615 million this year, the ministry said.

The move comes after the Italian antitrust authorities in March fined the two Swiss pharmaceutical companies a combined EUR 180 million in the same case, having found that they colluded to keep doctors from prescribing a relatively inexpensive eye treatment in favor of a more expensive drug used to treat a common cause of blindness. The authorities said in March: "The companies colluded to exclude the cheap drug Avastin, used in the treatment of the most common eyesight condition in the elderly as well as other serious sight problems, and channel demand towards the much more expensive drug Lucentis, through an artificial distinction between the two products. The anticompetitive agreement caused the Italian National Health Service to sustain additional expenses estimated at over EUR 45 million in 2012, while increased future costs might exceed EUR 600 million per year. Novartis and Roche were imposed fines totaling respectively EUR 92 and 90,5 million."

It is expected that other countries in Europe, such as France, will follow suit.

 
Cure for Dry Eye Could Be a Blink Away PDF
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Ophthalmology and Optometry
Monday, 02 June 2014

A treatment for dry eye - a burning, gritty condition that can impair vision and damage the cornea - could some day result from computer simulations that map the way tears move across the surface of the eye. Kara Maki, assistant professor in Rochester Institute of Technology's School of Mathematical Sciences, contributed to a recent National Science Foundation study seeking to understand the basic motion of tear film traversing the eye. "Tear Film Dynamic with Evaporation, Wetting and Time Dependent Flux boundary Condition on an Eye-shaped Domain," published in the journal Physics of Fluids on May 6, is an extension of Maki's doctoral research under her thesis advisor and co-author Richard Braun, professor in the University of Delaware’s Department of Mathematical Sciences.

"We're hoping if we can understand better the basic dynamics of the tear film, then we can start to understand what goes wrong if you have dry eye and start to think about potential cures by studying simulations," Maki said.

Dry eye is a common condition without a cure. Many causes, including the aging process, contribute to discomfort resulting from either a lack of tears or tears that evaporate too quickly. Women are predominantly afflicted with the condition, with more than 3 million diagnosed with dry eye due to hormonal changes associated with menopause. Treatment to alleviate symptoms includes eye drops and temporary or surgical plugs to stopper tear ducts at the inner corners of the eyes and retain fluid.

To understand dry eye, Maki had to begin with the physics and chemistry of tears. Tear film consists of a layer of water sandwiched between an oily layer of lipids on the outside to prevent evaporation and an inner mucous layer to spread the water over the eye.

Kara developed a mathematical model to simulate the direction tear film travels when entering the eye from the lacrimal glands above the upper eyelid. Using the software program Overture, she recreated the flow of tears on the surface of an open eye, moving from the upper corner and draining through the ducts at the opposite corner.

 
China Fines Major Foreign Owned Eyecare Companies PDF
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International News
Friday, 30 May 2014

China has levied more than 19 million yuan (AU$3.3 million) in total fines against major foreign owned eyecare companies for alleged antitrust behavior, in its latest effort to use competition laws to tame pricing. On its website, China's National Development and Reform Commission said it levied the fines after finding eyewear and lens companies were exerting excessive control over prices. It said some restricted retail prices and used tactics such as improperly controlling terms of product promotions.

Shanghai Essilor Optical Co. has been fined the most. Their fine of 8,790,200 yuan (approximately AU$1.5 million) represents 2% of their annual sales. Beijing Nikon also received a fine of 2% of their annual sales or 1,684,800 yuan (approximately AUS$0.3 million). Other companies mentioned in the article that received fines are Carl Zeiss optics (Guangzhou) Co., Ltd. Beijing Bausch & Lomb eye care products and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Trading (Shanghai) Co.

 
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