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|Friday, May 01, 2009|
From stronger teeth to sharper eyes to a rewired brain, Oregon innovators are finding ways to keep us living longer and better.
BY JON BELL
Who: Greta Binford, assistant professor of biology
Who: SAM Medical Products
Who: Chrissa Kioussi, assistant professor of pharmacology
Who: Bend Research
What: Drug delivery technology
You can cross your heart and hope to die, but thanks to scientists at Bend Research, you may never have to stick a needle in your eye — at least not to deliver drugs for glaucoma.
“As you can imagine, that’s not a lot of fun,” says Rod Ray, chief executive officer of the 34-year-old Bend medical company.
Among its other innovations, Bend Research is developing new technologies for administering drugs to the eyes, including drops that contain powerful medicine in nanoparticle form. Ray says researchers there have also been working on ways to make drugs more soluble and to target them to specific sites in the body. The latter would not only reduce the amount of drug needed, but would also help ensure that, say, cancer drugs would head straight for a tumor.
“That technology is a really important one for fighting cancer,” says Ray.
Bend Research, which developed the popular one-dose antibiotic Zmax, recently left a 14-year exclusive partnership with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and is currently harvesting new relationships with biotech and drug companies around the world.
Ray says he sees the company continuing to make advances in the pharmaceutical realm and dabbling in the world of diagnostics. A possible next step: a new and better cholesterol test.
Who: Scott Frey, psychology professor
What: Brain adaptation research
Where: University of Oregon, Eugene
If Scott Frey is right about the human brain, we may be in for some monumental shifts in the treatment of everything from strokes to spinal cord damage.
Studying a handful of amputees who’ve been “cured” via hand transplants, Frey has learned that the brain is a mighty organizer. Not only does it reorganize itself after the limb is lost, but it then “re-reorganizes” itself when a new limb is attached. Feeling comes back and the brain begins processing signals from the new hand in the same region it did for the original hand.
“Our case presents the most compelling case that the brain can go back to the way it was,” Frey says.
The broader implication could theoretically mean that the brain would be able to rewire itself in, say, a paralyzed patient whose damaged spinal cord has been repaired by stem cells. Damage from strokes, concussive head injuries and diseases such as multiple sclerosis might also someday be abated with a better understanding of how the brain adapts.
Frey’s next wave of related research, funded by the Department of Defense, finds him recruiting arm and hand amputees to learn more about the brain’s role in phantom pain and the nearly 50% of upper limb amputees who reject prostheses.
“I would like to see us get a better understanding of these basic brain changes,” he says, “and the extent to which they can be reversed.”
Who: Neda Shamie, MD
What: Cataract and corneal surgery
Where: Legacy’s Devers Eye Institute, Portland
Oregon’s the right location for snowy mountains, microbrews and, apparently, afflictions of the eye.
“Oregon is a great place to be if you have an eye disease,” says Neda Shamie, a corneal and laser refractive surgeon at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital’s Devers Eye Institute.
Shamie is one of Devers’ surgeons who specializes in some of the latest and greatest procedures out there. One example: advanced intraocular lens surgery for cataracts, where surgeons implant premium lenses that restore vision to near 20-20 and usually render reading glasses unnecessary.
But where Shamie and Devers really shine is in the realm of the cornea. Her colleague, Mark Terry, revolutionized cornea transplants 10 years ago with a technique that replaces only the damaged layer of the cornea, not the entire thickness as had been standard practice. Shamie herself has done more than 100 of those surgeries since joining Devers in 2006.
The institute is also one of the only facilities in Oregon to offer artificial cornea implanting, a new option for high-risk patients who’ve had multiple regular implants fail.
“There are books that can be written on what’s to come,” says Shamie.
Friday, August 15, 2014
In this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Why has six years become an acceptable investment in public undergraduate education that over-promises and underperforms?
Friday, September 19, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
How can you tell if you, a peer, a subordinate or a job candidate has the emotional intelligence needed to do well?
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JON BELL
Startup culture is all the rage. Is there a downside?
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD
Janice Levenhagen-Seeley reprograms tech.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KLINT FINLEY
Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson builds a 21st-century trade school.
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|Fast Food Slows Down|
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|Startup or Grow Up?|
|UPS Store to offer 3D-printing|
|First-weekend sales of iPhone 6 tops 10M|
|Climate march draws 300,000 in NYC|
|Alibaba largest stock offering ever|
|PBR sold to Russian beverage company|
|Scotland votes to stay in United Kingdom|
|Scotland vote on independence begins|
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