Earlier this summer, the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ national conference VISIONS 2016 took place in Baltimore, Maryland. This three day event is held for individuals and families across the United States who are affected by retinal diseases. Dozens of sessions covering science, lifestyle tips, disease-specific discussions and networking opportunities were made available to the attendees.
During research-focused sessions, invited experts in the field of retinal research spoke to those keen to understand and keep up to date on work happening around the globe in the fight to find treatments and cures for vision loss. Some of these experts included Dr David Gamm, a leading stem cell biologist from the University of Wisconsin and Prof John Flannery, a member of our Medical Science Advisory Board from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr Gamm gave an informative overview on stem cells while Prof Flannery presented on genetics and gene therapy. Fighting Blindness is delighted to announce that both Dr Gamm and Prof Flannery will travel from the US to speak at Retina 2016 this November.
Other research-focussed sessions included a comprehensive presentation on the latest news from the clinical trials front line in gene therapy, stem cell therapy and retinal implant devices. Spark Therapeutics, a US based gene therapy company were also represented at the conference and provided an encouraging update on their successful gene therapy programmes for Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). Spark Therapeutics will also give a presentation at the Public Engagement Day at Retina on November 12 about the use of patient-relevant clinical endpoints in clinical trials.
Kevin Whelan, Fighting Blindness CEO and Dr Laura Brady, Research Officer attended the VISIONS 2016 conference. It was a great opportunity to meet with staff and members of a similar organisation in the US. This was also a unique opportunity to network with researchers, and stay up to date on potential retinal degenerative disease therapies, something which is of great importance to our members.