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Here you will find an archive of all news and announcements impacting the Usher community.

Pamela Aasen, the proud parent of Ethan & Gavin who have Usher syndrome type 1b, reflects on her family's journey to overcome the challenges of Usher syndrome.

Megan Lengel, a recent college graduate and young adult with Usher syndrome, has offered to share with us her valuable experience attending college while dealing with Usher syndrome.

Usher Kids UK brings together families of children with Usher syndrome in the United Kingdom. Learn more about our USH Partner.

Hear See Hope has been funding Usher syndrome research for 15 years. Learn more about our USH Partner.

Usher 1F Collaborative's mission is to fund medical research to find a cure for the vision loss of Usher Syndrome type 1F. Learn more about our USH Partner.

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) scientists have fine-tuned their delivery system to send a DNA editing tool to alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. With this new method, researchers can package together the Cas9 protein and guide RNA for the CRISPR mediated gene editing. Previously, the two components—Cas9 protein and guide RNA—had to be delivered separately which was not as efficient. The new system offers the delivery efficiency of conventional lentiviral vectors that enable transient Cas9 expression. Transient Cas9 expression means a decrease chance of having unwanted effects when using this therapy.

What this means for Usher syndrome: For Usher patients, improving the efficacy of CRISPR technology means that they will be able to receive a more efficient treatment with very low side-effects.

Ava's Voice empowers youth with Usher syndrome. Learn more about our USH Partner.

Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and Boston-based genetic medicine company Akouos have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement to develop a patented gene therapy that could potentially treat hearing loss associated with a type of Usher syndrome. It may be able to stop the progression of hearing loss and prevent deafness in people with USH3A. The hearing loss is “sensorineural,” meaning it is caused by abnormalities of the inner ear, while the vision is due to the degeneration of the retina at the back of the eye. The technology has allowed researchers to develop a more precise animal model of the hearing loss associated with Usher syndrome type 3A, and the potential for the technology to deliver the preservation of hearing and quality of life for children and adults diagnosed with the genetic disorder.

What this means for Usher syndrome: The development of a more precise animal model for USH3A will exponentially expedite the identification of novel and more efficient therapies to slow or complete stop the progression of this disease.

As part of the Human Cell Atlas Project, Australian scientists created the world’s most detailed gene map of the human retina. Dr. Wong says, “By creating a genetic map of the human retina, we can understand the factors that enable cells to keep functioning and contribute to healthy vision.” The map provides a detailed gene profile of individual retinal cell types that will help us study how those genes impact different kinds of cells. Scientists can have a clear benchmark to assess the quality of the cells derived from stem cells to determine whether they have the correct genetic code which will enable them to function.

What this means for Usher syndrome: By having this atlas of healthy cells and their interconnections, researchers will be able to predict the effect of different drugs to treat eye diseases, including Usher syndrome.

The birth control pill has been found to contain a compound which gives long-term protection against two degenerative eye diseases – glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa (RP), according to recent research from University College Cork (UCC) scientists in Ireland. The eye protective compound was discovered during a search through all the compounds approved by the FDA for treatment of people with eye diseases. The UCC scientists have found that norgestrel in animal models can provide protection against some common degenerative diseases of the eye.

What this means for Usher syndrome: Based on this study, norgestrel therapy will be a good alternative approach for the prevention of photoreceptor cell death in Usher patients.

Researchers in Germany have recently developed a “retina-on-a-chip” which combines living human cells with an artificial tissue-like system. The scientists describe their work as “merging organoid and organ-on-a-chip technology to generate complex multi-layer tissue models in a human Retina-on-a-Chip platform.” Ophthalmologic drugs largely rely on animal models, which often do not provide results that are translatable to human patients. In this study, researchers present the retina-on-a-chip (RoC), a novel microphysiological model of the human retina integrating more than seven different essential retinal cell-types derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs).

What this means for Usher syndrome: this model can be used to test hundreds of drugs for harmful effects on the “human” retina very quickly and enables scientists to take stem cells from a specific patient and study both the disease and potential treatment in the individual’s own cells.

CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats) is a cutting-edge genetic editing technique that enables the targeting and editing of specific sequences in the human DNA. CRISPR is known to result in unwanted gene edits that can occur when working with embryos. However, if the edits are done on adult humans and children, no transference occurs, and any potential damage remains to one individual. Allergan and Editas Medicine EDIT, a pharmaceutical company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has announced in July they are ready to enroll subjects into its first of its kind CRISPR-based therapy trials, a development that would involve gene editing inside the human body. A propriety EDIT-101 injection is administrated into the eye to deliver “gene-altering machinery” directly to the photoreceptor cells. Once injected, EDIT-101 cuts out the mutated DNA, including CEP290 gene responsible for progressive photoreceptor-cell loss, which leads to an inherited type of blindness, Leber congenital amaurosis 10. The goal is for this cut to be repair by the DNA-repairing process that will lead to the expression of the normal protein.

What this means for Usher syndrome: potential treatments for vision loss are being discovered every day. In this case, the use of CRISPR technology will help to replace and repair mutations present in the Usher proteins and thus, help to restore vision as well as hearing.

In a new study of patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa, the Keck School of Medicine of USC researchers have found that adapted augmented reality (AR) glasses can improve patients’ mobility by 50% and grasp performance by 70%. Utilizing a different approach by employing assistive technology to enhance natural senses, the team adapted AR glasses that project bright colors onto patients’ retinas, corresponding to nearby obstacles.

What this means for Usher syndrome: we can improve the quality of life for patients with low vision due to retinitis pigmentosa through the use of augmented reality technology.

Drug repurposing is a new and attractive aspect of therapy development that could offer low-cost and accelerated establishment of new treatment options. The enzyme poly-ADP-ribose-polymerase (PARP) has important roles for many forms of DNA repair and it also participates in transcription, chromatin remodeling and cell death signaling. Currently, some PARP inhibitors are approved for cancer therapy, by means of canceling DNA repair processes and cell division.

Excessive PARP activity is also involved in neurodegenerative diseases including the currently untreatable and blinding retinitis pigmentosa group of inherited retinal photoreceptor degenerations. Hence, repurposing of known PARP inhibitors for patients with non-oncological diseases might provide a facilitated route for a novel retinitis pigmentosa therapy.

What this means for Usher syndrome: PARP inhibitors are approved for their use in cancer therapy, suggesting they can be repurposed to treat retinitis pigmentosa at a very low cost and shorter waiting times compared to novel drugs.

Researchers from Sun Yat-sen University are attempting to test the efficacy and safety of oral minocycline for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Minocycline, a second generation, semi-synthetic tetracycline antibiotic, a highly lipophilic molecule and can easily pass through the blood-brain barrier. Several clinical trials and animal experiments have reported that minocycline exert anti-apoptotic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in treating neurodegenerative diseases. They have proposed to test the effect and safety of oral minocycline for RP.

What this means for Usher syndrome: If clinical trials are successful, Usher patients will have the possibility to be included in this non-invasive therapy to prevent photoreceptor cell death.

To develop biological approaches to restore vision, scientists developed a method of transplanting stem cell-derived retinal tissue into the retina of an animal model, a cat. Human embryonic stem cells were successfully grafted into the retina of cats. The researchers observed strong infiltration of immune cells into the graft and surrounding tissue in the cats treated with prednisolone alone. The cats treated with prednisolone plus cyclosporine A showed better survival and low immune response to the grafts. This work demonstrates the feasibility of engrafting human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal tissue into the retina of large-eye animal models. Transplanting retinal tissue in degenerating cat retina will enable rapid development of preclinical work focused on vision restoration.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This procedure may provide a platform for testing stem cell-based therapies to treat Usher syndrome patients.

A major cause of human blindness is the death of rod photoreceptors. As rods degenerate, synaptic structures between rod and rod bipolar cells disappear and the rod bipolar cells extend their dendrites and occasionally make aberrant contacts. Such changes are broadly observed in blinding disorders caused by photoreceptor cell death and are thought to occur in response to deafferentation. How the remodeled retinal circuit affects visual processing following rod rescue is not known. To address this question, we generated male and female transgenic mice wherein a disrupted cGMP-gated channel (CNG) gene can be repaired at the endogenous locus and at different stages of degeneration by tamoxifen-inducible cre-mediated recombination. In normal rods, light-induced closure of CNG channels leads to hyperpolarization of the cell, reducing neurotransmitter release at the synapse. Similarly, rods lacking CNG channels exhibit a resting membrane potential that was ~10 mV hyperpolarized compared to WT rods, indicating diminished glutamate release. Retinas from these mice undergo stereotypic retinal remodeling as a consequence of rod malfunction and degeneration. Upon tamoxifen-induced expression of CNG channels, rods recovered their structure and exhibited normal light responses. Moreover, we show that the adult mouse retina displays a surprising degree of plasticity upon activation of rod input. Wayward bipolar cell dendrites establish contact with rods to support normal synaptic transmission, which is propagated to the retinal ganglion cells. These findings demonstrate remarkable plasticity extending beyond the developmental period and support efforts to repair or replace defective rods in patients blinded by rod degeneration.

What this means for Usher syndrome: If the same plasticity exists in the human retina, and the communications between bipolar cells and rods can be reestablished, this will suggest that future research can be directed toward the search for new therapies that will increase or accelerate these communications. Within that scenario, Usher patients will benefit in the future since they will be able preserve and restore some of their retinal activity.

Scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and Scuola Superiore Sant’ Anna in Italy are developing a technology, OpticSELINE, for the blind that stimulates the optic nerve. The idea is to produce phosphenes, the sensation of seeing light in the form of seeing white patterns, without seeing light directly. Unfortunately, only a few hundred patients qualify for the current retinal implants on the market for clinical reasons. The intraneural electrode is a potential solution to this exclusion, since the optic nerve and the pathway to the brain are often intact. Intraneural electrodes contain an array of 12 electrodes and are more stable and less likely to move around once they are implanted. To understand the effectiveness of the electrodes, scientists delivered electric current to the optic nerve through OpticSELINE and measured the brain’s activity . The stimulation showed each electrode induces a special pattern of cortical activation, suggesting that intraneural stimulation of the optic nerve is selective and informative.

What this means for Usher syndrome: newer technologies such as the OpticSELINE are being developed as potential solutions to help the blind see. It might take some time and several clinical trials to fine-tune those stimulated cortical patterns but as they are now those visual signals generated by the OpticSELINE will be able to provide visual aid in the near future.

The conference transcript and presentation slides from the annual Usher Syndrome (USH) Connections Conference are now available! Check out the transcript and slides to learn how important the USH Trust Registry is to treatment development, how a drug treatment entering clinical trial could help people with Usher syndrome, and more.

The identification of the causes and understandings of the functions of many inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) has led to the development of exciting new gene/disease specific treatment opportunities. There are numerous treatments available that are aimed at a level of not just targeting specific genes but also certain mutations. Therefore, gene/disease specific treatments rely on persistent target cells and sufficient visual function to work effectively. However, many patients are outside of this window of opportunity and must rely on other approaches.

What this means for Usher syndrome: there are many different treatment and therapy options that are in development for retinitis pigmentosa.

Ophthalmology researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered the loss of vision in retinitis pigmentosa is the result of a disruption in the flow of glucose to the rods and cones. Metabolic changes result in the reduced availability of glucose in the cells; thus, starving the photoreceptors of necessary nutrients. Douglas C. Dean PhD stated, “Attacking glucose utilization is a major strategy in fighting lung cancer. This unexpected connection in retinal and lung cancer metabolism has led us to link these seemingly unrelated systems to search for common drugs that target both lung cancer and retinal degeneration."

What this means for Usher syndrome: This connection between lung cancer and retinal degeneration will help us find potential drugs to treat both diseases.

Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) reported a more sensitive method for capturing the footprint of AAV vectors — the range of sites where the vectors transfer new genetic material. AAV vectors are bioengineered tools that use a harmless virus to transport modified genetic material safely into tissues and cells. To use these vectors safely and effectively, researchers must have a complete picture of where in the body the virus delivers the gene. Current methods to define gene transfer rely on fluorescent reporter genes that glow under a microscope, highlighting cells that take up and express the delivered genetic material. Unfortunately, these methods reveal only cells with stable, high levels of cargo. This new technology provides a better and more sensitive method for researchers to detect where the gene is expressed, even if it is expressed at low levels or for only a short time. To address this gap, Beverly L. Davidson, PhD and her laboratory developed a new AAV screening technique that uses sensitive editing-reporter transgenic mice that are marked even with a short burst of expression.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This new method will help to improve the safety of AAV-gene editing approaches because it better defines sites where the vector expresses the modified gene. AAV-gene editing might be developed into a treatment for Usher syndrome.

Scientists from Okayama University have developed a film coupled with photoelectric dye that generates electric signals in response to light. When the device was placed on an instrument that measures electric potential, the film generated waves of electric signals after being exposed to a flashing light. Researchers have highlighted that the device may function as a “novel type of retinal prosthesis.”

What this means for Usher syndrome: This device might be developed into an implant treatment for vision loss in Usher syndrome.

When a person becomes blind their brain’s visual cortex is typically undamaged, but it is not receiving information from the eyes. Six blind people have now had their vision partially restored thanks to Orion, a new device that feeds images from a camera directly into the brain. The Orion device has two main parts: a brain implant and a pair of glasses. The implant consists of sixty electrodes that receive information from a camera mounted on the glasses. Together, they deliver visual information to the brain; thus, bypassing the eye.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This system might provide vision in Usher syndrome patients who are completely blind.

“Researchers have developed a significantly improved delivery mechanism for the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing method in the liver. The delivery uses biodegradable synthetic lipid nanoparticles that carry the molecular editing tools into the cell to alter the cells’ genetic code precisely with as much as 90 percent efficiency. The nanoparticles could help overcome technical hurdles to enable gene editing in a broad range of clinical therapeutic applications.”

What this means for Usher syndrome: This technique may provide a means for delivering gene therapies to the retina in Usher syndrome patients.

Researchers developed a mouse model with genetically defective rods that mimics developmental blindness disorders in humans. A team examined the structure of the defective retina, as well as its response to light with or without gene therapy. The rods that received gene therapy not only regained normal light response, but also recovered normal connections to other retinal neurons.

What this means for Usher syndrome: If future treatments for Usher syndrome can save photoreceptors from dying, the saved cells may be able to reconnect and become functional.

Kathy Thompson, Board Director of the Coalition, steps out of her comfort zone and goes camping.

We’re excited to host the Usher Syndrome Society as they continue to grow the global “Shine A Light On Usher Syndrome” exhibit featuring portraits and stories of those living with Usher syndrome. Sign up now to get your portrait taken at this year’s USH Connections Conference!

A new study shows that the complement system, part of the innate immune system, plays a protective role to slow the retinal degeneration in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). This discovery contradicts previous studies of other eye diseases suggesting that the complement system worsens retinal degeneration. Utilizing a mouse model, the researchers examined the role of C3 and CR3, the central component of complement and its receptor, by comparing mice with genetically removed C3 or CR3 to normal mice. They found that degeneration worsened in the absence of C3 or CR3. Rod photoreceptors, the light-sensing cells that die first in RP, were lost along with a surge in the expression of neurotoxic inflammatory cytokines. According to Dr. Wong, “Breakdown of this C3-CR3 interaction results in a decreased ability of microglia to phagocytose dead photoreceptors, which then accumulate in the retina, stimulating greater inflammation and degeneration.” These results demonstrate that complement activation is helpful for clearing away dead cells and “maintaining a state of homeostasis, a physiological balance, in the retina.”

What this means for Usher syndrome: this study demonstrates the fundamental role the complement system, part of the immune system, plays in countering retina degeneration.

Lane, a mother of two children with Usher Syndrome, writes about her experience at the Usher syndrome Coalition Annual Conference. She explains how these conferences have positively affected not just herself but her whole family.

This study discovered that a classic anti-malarial drug can help sensory cells of the inner ear recognize and transport the Clarin-1 protein to its normal location in the cell. Usher syndrome 3A is due to mutations in Clarin-1. The researchers found that the mutant Clarin-1 protein is not transported properly and then tested drugs that target the transport system. They found that the drug, artemisinin, restores inner ear sensory cell function, and thus hearing and balance, in zebrafish genetically engineered to have mutant human versions of the Clarin-1 protein.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This study identifies a drug that might be useful for treating hearing loss in Usher syndrome 3A patients.

This study aims to analyze the effect of nutraceutical molecules with antioxidant properties, on progression of the disease in an established animal model with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). We saw that long-term treatment with a flavanone (naringenin) or flavanol (quercetin) present in citrus fruits, grapes, and apples, preserves retinal functionality. These two molecules possess antioxidant properties, limiting neurodegeneration, and thus preventing cone damage.

What this means for Usher syndrome: If this treatment preserves cone functionality, it could slow vision loss in Usher syndrome patients.

OliX Pharmaceuticals Inc., a leading developer of RNAi therapeutics announced today an expansion of its ocular disease pipeline. OLX304A has been developed as an RNAi therapeutic with an undisclosed target for the treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa. OLX304A is a program to develop a treatment that targets a single gene for patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa regardless of their disease-causing mutation. This treatment is different from conventional strategies that focus on targeting individual disease-causing genes.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This strategy could result in a single type of treatment that could help all Usher syndrome patients.

GenSight Biologics, a biopharma company focused on discovering and developing gene therapies for retinal neurodegenerative diseases and central nervous system disorders, announced that the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) has completed its first safety review of the ongoing PIONEER Phase I/II clinical trial of GS030 combining gene therapy and optogenetics for the treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). No safety issues have been found for the first cohort of subjects who received a single intravitreal injection of 5e10 vg combined with a wearable optronic visual stimulation device. Therefore, the DSMB has recommended moving forward with the plan without any modification to the protocol and recruiting the second cohort of subjects to receive an escalated dose of 1.5e11 vg.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This clinical trial could lead to a treatment for RP and may be applicable to Usher syndrome.

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, the Cardiovascular Research Institute and the Texas Heart Institute have discovered that although the mammalian retina—a layer of specialized nerve cells that mediates vision and is located on the back of the eye—does not spontaneously regenerate, it has a regenerative capacity that is kept dormant by a cellular mechanism called the Hippo pathway. The retina does not regenerate in humans, but other animals such as zebrafish can reverse blindness due to specialized cells in their retina, Müller glial cells. When the retina is damaged, the Müller glial cells multiply and become the lost retinal neurons—replacing injured cells with functional ones. Although Müller glial cells do not restore vision in humans, research has shown that when the retina is injured, “a small subset of Müller glial cells takes the first steps needed to enter the proliferation cycle, such as acquiring molecular markers scientists expect to see in a proliferating cell.”

What this means for Usher syndrome: Discovery of the Hippo pathway suggests that it may be possible to activate the retina’s ability to restore vision loss by manipulating this pathway.

Eloxx Pharmaceuticals is developing small molecules that permit read-through of point mutations that cause Usher syndrome 1F and 2A. Eloxx has entered into a partnership with the Foundation Fighting Blindness and is developing molecules that “read through” nonsense mutations. Scientists believe that approximately 10% of all the gene mutations across all known inherited retinal diseases are nonsense. Therefore, the “read through” molecules have the potential to help many people.

What this means for Usher syndrome: A subset of Usher syndrome patients, those with nonsense mutations, might be helped by this therapy.

ReNeuron Group plc has announced the latest updated positive preliminary results in the company’s ongoing phase 1 and 2a clinical trial of its human retinal progenitor cell (hRPC) therapy candidate in retinitis pigmentosa. All three subjects in the first group of phase 2a have demonstrated a sustained and further improvement in vision compared to their pre-treatment baseline.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This potential therapy could provide a means to restore lost vision in Usher syndrome patients.

2Ctech Inc, a privately-held development stage company focused on the application of nanoparticle technologies for the treatment of retinal diseases, announced its first-known clinical program to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of Quantum Dots (QDs) to achieve photovoltaic stimulation of the neural retina for preservation or enhancement of vision in patients with retinal degenerative diseases. QDs are semiconductor crystalline structures that absorb light and generate a dipole electrical field; thus, stimulating the neuronal retina cells. These particles are similar to solar cells, which produce energy in response to light. In the layers of the retina, the particle emissions are intended to result in direct stimulation of the neural retina, “creating action potentials that trigger the normal neural pathways to the brain.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This new technology holds promise to provide a means to restore lost vision in Usher syndrome patients.

Karen Andersen, Samira Kiani and their colleagues at Arizona State University described a method of rendering the CRISPR-Case9 gene-editing tool “immunosilent,” potentially allowing the editing and repair of genes to be accomplished reliably and without activating an immune response. Their study is the first to predict accurately the dominant binding sites or epitopes responsible for immune recognition of the Cas9 protein and experimentally target them for modification. These findings bring CRISPR a step closer to a safer clinical application.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This discovery could help pave the way toward FDA approval of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing therapies to treat Usher syndrome.

Ophthotech has licensed exclusive rights to develop novel adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy candidates for Best disease and other bestrophinopathies from University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and the University of Florida Research Foundation (UFRF). The agreement allowed Ophthotech to enter talks with Penn and UFRF to acquire a license for novel AAV serotype 2 based gene therapy product candidates for Best disease, an orphan inherited degenerative retinal disease caused by mutations in the BESTI gene. Additionally, Ophthotech says it expects to initiate a Phase I/II clinical trial for the Best disease candidate in the first half of 2021.

What this means for Usher syndrome: If the first clinical trials for Best disease using this novel AVV gene therapy are successful, this means Ophthotech will probably look for other eye-related diseases like Usher syndrome.

RNA, the short-lived cousin to its better-known partner, DNA, is the blueprint for protein production in cells. Joshua Rosenthal told researchers about how the squid and octopuses make prolific use of an enzyme called ADAR to catalyze thousands of single-letter changes to the RNA code. These minor edits alter the structure and activity of proteins that control electrical impulses in the animals’ nerves. Rosenthal’s studies on squids inspired him to hijack ADAR and program it for making precise edits to the human RNA. Additionally, the editing of RNA is reversible, since cells are constantly churning out new copies of RNA. If Rosenthal’s RNA editors work in humans, they could be used repeatedly to treat genetic diseases without confronting the unknown, long-term risks of permanent DNA editing with CRISPR.

What this means for Usher syndrome: Although too early to say, RNA-reversibly editing can develop in an alternative strategy for the repair of point mutations in Usher genes.

Adeno-associated viruses (AAV) engineered to target specific cells into the retina can be injected directly into the vitreous of the eye to deliver genes more precisely than with wild type AAVs, which must be injected directly under the retina. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley inserted a gene for a green-light receptor into the eyes of blind mice, and a month later the mice could maneuver obstacles as easily as mice without visual impairments. The mice could use motion, brightness changes over time, and fine detail on an iPad.

What this means for Usher syndrome: Retinal delivery of AAV can always have the adverse effects of tissue inflammation and/or retinal detachment. This new strategy, delivering the modified virus into the vitreous, will prevent those side effects. For Usher patients, this means that, if successful, this therapy will increase the probability of success in restoring vision.

Stem cells are cells that have the capability of becoming any type of cells in an organism and in the right environment. Researchers are trying to use stem cell therapy to replace lost photoreceptors and preserve residual photoreceptors during retinal degeneration. One of the problems is that the degenerative microenvironment that already exists in the diseased retina compromises the fate of grafted cells. The desired donor cells will need to have both proper regenerative capability and the ability to improve their own microenvironment. For this purpose, the authors of the present work used specific cell surface molecules that help to kill tumorigenic embryonic cells and at the same time enrich retinal progenitor cells. The retinal progenitors were obtained from embryonic stem cells derived from retinal organoids (three dimensional structures derived from pluripotent cells) that were grafted into retinal degeneration rat and mouse models. After three months post-treatment, those animals showed a 40% increase in healthy photoreceptor cells and a decrease in inflammatory molecules, demonstrating the importance of a healthier environment for the grafted cells.

What this means for Usher syndrome: These two features of the organoid systems, regenerative capability and generation of a healthier microenvironment, will, very likely, benefit Usher patients as an additional therapy to delay or prevent photoreceptor loss.

Ganglion cells in the eye generate noise as the light-sensitive photoreceptors die in diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Now, neurobiologists have found a drug and gene therapy that can tamp down the noise, improving sight in mice with RP. These therapies could potentially extend the period of useful vision in those with degenerative eye diseases, including, perhaps, age-related macular degeneration.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This type of therapy may also extend the period of useful vision in Usher syndrome.

ProQR Therapeutics N.V., a company dedicated to changing lives through the creation of transformative RNA medicines for the treatment of severe genetic rare diseases, today announced the first patient treated in the Phase 1/2 STELLAR clinical trial for QR-421a in patients with Usher syndrome type 2 or non-syndromic retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Interim data from the trial are expected to be announced by mid-2019. According to David G. Birch, Ph.D., Principal Investigator of STELLAR and Scientific Director of the Retina Foundation of the Southwest in Dallas, Texas, “The STELLAR study is one of the first studies of its kind exploring the impact of ProQR’s RNA therapies on patients with Usher syndrome type 2 due to an Exon 13 mutation. The STELLAR trial will explore whether QR-421a (ProQR’s RNA therapy) can slow disease progression or even reverse it.”

What this means for Usher syndrome: There may be a potential drug available to reverse blindness caused by Usher syndrome.

Researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China injected tiny nanoparticles into mouse eyes that bind the retina into the eyeballs, hence giving them what the team calls ‘super vision.’ The injected nanoparticles bind to photoreceptors and shift the wavelength of light. After the injection, the mice could see normally invisible near-infrared light effectively extending ‘mammalian vision’. Scientists predict that these kinds of nanoparticles could help repair vision in humans who experience loss of retinal function or red color blindness. Additionally, this method is less invasive than other conventional vision repair methods.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This method might be used to increase light sensitivity as vision is lost.

The USH2019 Early Bird Rate has been extended to March 15th and there are new opportunities to connect at this annual Usher syndrome event!

ReNeuron Group, a UK-based global leader in the development of cell-based therapeutics, announced positive preliminary results in the company’s ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial of its human retinal progenitor cells candidate therapy for the blindness-causing disease, retinitis pigmentosa (RP). All three subjects in the first group of the Phase 2 part of the trial demonstrated a significant improvement in vision at the follow-up compared to their pre-treatment baseline and compared with their untreated control eye.

What this means for Usher syndrome: A similar cell-based therapy tailored to Usher syndrome may help restore vision.

The Sanford Health Lorraine Cross Award worth $1 million was established to award game-changers in medicine. The award is not to have people to live forever, but to “live life without suffering.” The winners of the award are Dr. Jean Bennett and Dr. Katherine High of the University of Pennsylvania, pioneers of gene therapy research. The award is in recognition of the improvements in gene therapy that led to an FDA-approved treatment for Leber’s congenital amaurosis.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This award not only reflects the importance of gene therapy for the treatment of genetic disorders but could accelerate research in Usher syndrome through gene therapy.

A team of scientists from Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (MSMU), together with colleagues from leading scientific centers in India and Moscow, described several genetic mutations causing Usher syndrome.

What this means for Usher syndrome: These previously unstudied genetic mutations will allow us to identify new targets for specific therapies.

The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has approved the usage of mesencephalic-astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor (MANF) or cerebral dopamine neurotropic factor (CDNF) as a treatment for various retinal disorders including retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, or glaucoma. Both factors can be administered as an eye drop or by intravitreal injection. MANF is believed to have potential because it is a naturally-occurring protein produced by the body to reduce or prevent cell death in response to injury or disease through unfolded protein response.

What this means for Usher syndrome: Since MANF reduces or prevents cell death, in the case of Usher syndrome, it could prevent photoreceptor cells from dying, and thus preserve vision.

Join us for our 11th annual USH Connections Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 13, 2019. Attendees describe this conference as "life-changing," an event with a positive atmosphere and a genuine sense of community. At the USH Connections Conference, you will connect face-to-face with hundreds of people who "get it", meet and network with others facing the same challenges, and learn the latest on developing treatments from leading USH researchers.

A new purple protein, bacteriorhodopsin, has made its way from a tiny laboratory in Farmington, Connecticut, all the way up to the International Space Station. Since bacteriorhodopsin is light-sensitive, researchers hope to implant it into human eyes. The thought is that the protein could be used to replace cells that die due to diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. To simulate the cells, the laboratory in Farmington needs to build what it is called “organic implants” by layering the bacteriorhodopsin onto a film and dipping it over and over into a series of solutions. These solutions need to have a uniform distribution that can be adversely affected by gravity. To test this, LambdaVision has secured a spot for their experiment aboard the International Space Station, using funding from the ISS National Lab and Boeing.

What this means for Usher syndrome: These “organic implants”, composed of bacteriorhodopsin, could be capable of replacing dying photoreceptors in the retina.

Researchers revealed that culturing human induced pluripotent stem cells with different isoforms of the extracellular component laminin led to the creation of cells specific to different parts of the eye, including retinal, corneal, and neural crest cells. They showed that the different laminin variants affected the cells' motility, density, and interactions, resulting in their differentiation into specific ocular cell lineages. Cells cultured in this way could be used to treat various ocular diseases.

What this means for Usher syndrome: There is the possibility of replacing the photoreceptor cells that are dying in the retina with pluripotent cells that have been grown and induced into healthy photoreceptor cells.

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have discovered a set of simple rules that can determine the precision of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in human cells. These rules could help to improve the efficiency and safety of genome editing in both the lab and the clinic. By examining the effect of CRISPR genome editing at 1491 target sites across 450 genes in human cells, the team have discovered that the outcomes can be predicted based on simple rules. In this study, researchers have found that the outcome of a particular gene edit depends on the fourth letter from the end of the RNA guide, synthetic molecules made up of about 20 genetic letters (A, T, C, G). “The team discovered that if this letter is an A or a T, there will be a very precise genetic insertion; a C will lead to a relatively precise deletion and a G will lead to many imprecise deletions. Thus, simply avoiding sites containing a G makes genome editing much more predictable.”

What this means for Usher syndrome: Scientists will theoretically be able to repair the mutation present in an Usher gene by selecting the correct genetic letter from the end of the RNA guide.

ProQR Therapeutics announced that the FDA has cleared the Investigational New Drug (IND) application for QR-421a. QR-421a is a first-in-class investigational RNA-based oligonucleotide designed to address the underlying cause of the vision loss associated with Usher syndrome type 2 and non-syndromic retinitis pigmentosa due to mutations in exon 13 of the USH2A gene. ProQR plans to start enrolling patients in a Phase 1/2 trial named STELLAR in the coming months with preliminary data expected in mid-2019.

We are pleased to share with you the video, transcripts, slides and summaries of the 2018 International Symposium on Usher Syndrome in Mainz, Germany.

The light scalpel has the potential of preventing the “ripple effect” that occurs following a trigger that leads to glaucoma or macular degeneration. By utilizing the femtosecond laser, small holes appear in the cells of the eye’s retina, making it possible to effectively inject drugs or genes in specific areas of the eye. The key feature of this technology is extreme precision because through the usage of gold nanoparticles, the light scalpel makes it possible to precisely locate the family of cells where the doctor will have to intervene.

What this means for Usher syndrome: In CRISPR/Cas9 editing or drug delivery, the utilization of the femtosecond laser will improve the delivery of the specific compound to the affected area with minimum side effects.

The Bertarelli Foundation has awarded collaborative research grants to four teams of scientists from Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology in Basel, Switzerland, all focused on understanding and treating some of the most devastating sensory disorders such as Usher syndrome. Two HMS neurobiologists, studying the origins of deafness—David Corey and Arthur Indzhykulian—are joining forces with Botond Roska, an expert on retinal biology and eye disease at the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology in Basel, Switzerland to develop treatments for Usher syndrome type 1F. The researchers will focus on developing gene therapy aimed at overcoming a hurdle that has hindered therapeutic efforts so far: the unusually large Usher 1F protein.

What this means for Usher syndrome: This research could open the door for development of therapies to treat Usher 1F.

The Usher Syndrome Coalition's one-day conference, the USH Connections Conference, is the largest annual gathering of our global Usher syndrome community. Join us for this incredible opportunity to learn the latest on developing treatments from leading USH researchers while connecting with hundreds of affected individuals, their families, and professionals serving the deafblind community.

We invite you to join the Usher Syndrome Coalition in celebration of our 4th global Usher Syndrome Awareness Day, Saturday, September 15, 2018.

In August, it will be a year since the first commercial IRIS®II retinal chip implantation in Europe took place; it has allowed a blind patient to perceive light stimuli and use it to locate objects, meaning that she can be more independent. This work has made it possible to integrate artificial vision technology, which includes an electrical retinal stimulator with over 150 electrodes, glasses with a bio-inspired mini-camera and a pocket processor into this patient’s day-to-day life. For the patient, blind from a result of retinitis pigmentosa, the retinal chip is another way of supporting her in her daily life, together with her guide dog and the use of a cane.

What this means for Usher syndrome: There are possible technologies available to help the blind live and navigate independently.

Research suggests that the herb, cannabis, impacts every organ in the body including the eyes. Cannabis compounds work their magic in the eyes by interacting with one of the largest cellular communication networks—endocannabinoid system (ECS)—in vertebrates. Cannabis compounds interact with the ECS by engaging the cannabinoid receptor. By manipulating the cannabinoid receptors, we can change the way electroretinographic waves pass through the retina. In 2014, research published in Experimental Eye Research suggested that cannabis medicines may be able to slow down degenerative blindness by preventing the death of photoreceptors in those with retinitis pigmentosa.

What this means for Usher Syndrome: Patients with Usher syndrome may benefit from cannabis therapies by slowing down the progression of retinitis pigmentosa.

Link to Experimental Eye Research publication

Urge your House Representative to support the "Eye-Bonds" bill to provide $1 billion of new funding designated for treatments and cures of all causes of blindness and severe vision loss, including Usher syndrome.

Hans Jørgen Wiberg describes Be My Eyes, the app made up of a global community that connects people who are blind or have low vision with sighted volunteers from around the world through a live video call.

The Kimberling Usher Research Laboratory in the Institute for Vision Research is pleased to announce an increase in their campaign goal to $10 million. This increase is possible because additional major donors have joined the "challenge side" of the matching effort so that they can now match every gift for Usher Syndrome Research, dollar for dollar, until $10 million is raised.

Since 1995, University of California, Irvine stem cell researcher Magdalene J. Seiler, PhD has pursued promising research into the development and usage of retinal sheet transplantation. The treatment is based on transplanting sheets of stem cell-derived retina, called retina organoids to the back of the eye with hopes of re-establishing the neural circuity within the eye. Recently, Seiler has received a $4.8 million grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to continue to develop a stem cell-based therapy for retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa.

The number one question asked of the Usher Syndrome Coalition is “What is the status on treatments and/or a cure for Usher syndrome?” In order to be able to answer this question, the Usher Syndrome Coalition sponsors an annual conference focused exclusively on the latest efforts and findings of Usher researchers worldwide. This year, for the first time, our 10th annual USH Connections conference, along with the fourth international symposium for scientists, will be hosted by our partners in Germany.

A group of research physicians have discovered that using stem cells from a person’s own bone marrow has reported success in improving vision for patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa. The bone marrow stem cells come from the same person; therefore, there can be no rejection. Of the 33 eyes studied, 45.5% of individual eyes improved and 45.5% remained stable over the follow-up period when they typically have been worsening. Vision improvement is 98.4% likely to be a consequence of this treatment.

A US clinician has received a five-year £6.1 million grant to investigate the potential of advancing a gene therapy currently used in dogs to help retinitis pigmentosa (RP) patients. The treatment restored the night vision and stopped the progression of the daytime vision-loss in dogs with progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). PRA is an inherited condition in dogs and is caused by the same genes that are responsible for RP. This new grant will allow clinicians to build on primary studies in preparation for a possible clinical trial in human patients with RP.

Members of the USH community can participate in the Walk4Hearing in support of the Usher Syndrome Coalition. Here are the dates and locations for 2018 walks.

Sparing Vision, a French biotech, plans to use a naturally occurring protein called rod-derived cone-viability factor, which binds to a peptide on cone photoreceptor cells in the retina and allows more glucose to enter the cell. By allowing more glucose in, it will slow down or prevent cell death; thus stopping vision loss. This could be beneficial for patients with retinitis pigmentosa.

The nonprofit biomedical institute is seeking to acquire samples of every drug ever developed to see if they can be used to treat diseases besides those for which they were intended. That means collecting roughly 10,000 to 11,000 compounds discovered since the end of the 19th century. Most never made it to market, often because they weren’t effective or had unexpected side effects.

ProQR Therapeutics N.V. announced the results for their clinical trial of QR-110 LCA 10 is on track, and eight out of twelve patients have been enrolled in a Phase 1/2 trial. The results for safety and efficacy for the trial are expected to be announced in the second half of 2018. Currently, they planing to announce data from a QR-421 study for Usher Syndrome. The organization has received $7.5 million in funding from the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) and hopes to use QR-421a for Usher Syndrome Type 2A to target mutations in exon 13.

For the last couple years, Ophthalmologist Dr. Kang Zhang and UC San Diego researchers have been working with CRISPR by injecting it into the eyes of mice with Retinitis Pigmentosa. According to Dr. Zhang, they have been able to bring back 30 percent of vision and sometimes 50 percent of vision. Zhang’s lab has recently received the green light to start clinical trials this fall and if the trial goes well then CRISPR can be applied to all human genetic diseases or conditions.

Researchers at Duke University believe they have developed an approach to treat retinal conditions such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, which include misfolded proteins in the cell that the eye cannot process. Scientists have shown by boosting the cells’ ability to process misfolded proteins could keep them from clustering inside the cell. They created and tested the strategy in mice, significantly delaying the onset of blindness. This technique would not be used to prevent cell death retinal diseases but also neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

David Rand, Marie Jakešová, Gur Lubin, Ieva Vėbraitė, Moshe David-Pur, Vedran Đerek, Tobias Cramer, Niyazi Serdar Sariciftci, Yael Hanein, Eric Daniel Głowacki

A simple retinal prosthesis is being developed in collaboration between Tel Aviv University in Israel and Linköping University in Sweden. Fabricated using cheap and widely-available organic pigments used in printing inks and cosmetics, it consists of tiny pixels like a digital camera sensor on a nanometric scale. Researchers hope that it can restore sight to blind people.

Ekaterina S. Lobanova, Stella Finkelstein, Jing Li, Amanda M. Travis, Ying Hao, Mikael Klingeborn, Nikolai P. Skiba, Raymond J. Deshaies, Vadim Y. Arshavsky

New research outlines a strategy that in mouse models significantly delayed the onset of blindness from inherited retinal degeneration such as retinitis pigmentosa.

Bill Whitaker of CBS’s 60 minutes interviewed Feng Zeng to learn more about Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR). Whitaker’s interview with Zhang provides basic facts that are accessible to anyone on CRISPR and its possibility of not only curing genetic diseases but preventing them altogether.

An Ottawa-based company, iBionics, is working to improve the effectiveness of vision-restoring technology by developing a bionic retina, the Diamond Eye implant. iBionics is targeting for full approval and commercial availability by 2024.

One of these recent discoveries doesn't replace an entire eye, but supplants a major component of vision. It holds some promise for millions of people who could otherwise go blind. In a first, scientists in China have created artificial photoreceptors to help blind mice see.

ReNeuron, a developer of cell-based therapeutics, received a $1.5 million grant award from the UK Innovations agency. The project will allow further development of cell banks of ReNeuron’s hRPC candidate and as well as the development of product release assays for late-stage clinical development. The hRPC therapy is currently being tested in a Phase III clinical trial in the US for patients suffering retinitis pigmentosa.

A retinal implant allowed a 69 year old woman with macular degeneration to see more than double the usual number of letters on the vision chart. Luxturna, the gene therapy was approved by the FDA in 2017, corrects a mutation found in Leber congential amaurosis (LCA).

Caroline C. W. Klaver, MD, PhD; Alberta A. H. J. Thiadens, MD, PhD

Children with retinitis pigmentosa who received vitamin A supplementation were associated with slower rate of cone electroretinogram amplitude compared to children who did not, a small study found.

This story is designed to help you find an answer to the question: will a stem cell therapy work for me? To get an answer, Dr. Mary Sunderland of the Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada, suggests that you pay attention to three key points when you read new stories about stem cell discoveries or clinical trials...

Rajiv Gandhi Govindaraj, Misagh Naderi, Manali Singha, Jeffrey Lemoine, Michal Brylinski

Researchers at the LSU Computational Systems Biology group have developed a sophisticated and systematic way to identify existing drugs that can be repositioned to treat a rare disease or condition. They have fine-tuned a computer-assisted drug repositioning process that can save time and money in helping these patients receive effective treatment.

Odylia Therapeutics aims to advance gene therapies that are getting left behind. Odylia’s focus is gene therapies with scientific promise but limited commercial opportunity that maybe gathering dust on the selves of labs or companies.

Three blind mice could be a thing of the past. Scientists have restored the sight of blind mice by implanting tiny gold prosthetic photoreceptors into their eyes. So far, this incredible technique has only been carried out on mice. However, the work holds some hope for people with degenerative eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration.

Pixium Vision, a company developing innovative bionic vision systems to enable patients who have lost their sight to lead more independent lives, announces today the world’s first successful human implantation and activation of PRIMA, its new generation miniaturized wireless photovoltaic sub-retinal implant, in a patient with severe vision loss from atrophic dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

A French biopharma company has announced their plans to carry out human trials of a new treatment that would insert genes from light-seeking algae into the eyes of patients with inherited blindness in order to help them regain sight. The treatment involves optogenetics, a technique that converts nerve cells into light sensitive cells.

GenSight will start a clinical trial in the UK testing a combination of gene therapy and a wearable device to restore sight in patients with retinitis pigmentosa. The Phase I and II trial, PIONEER, will study the safety and tolerability of GenSight’s therapy called GS030, in patients with end-stage retinitis pigmentosa with vision not better than “counting fingers.” The first patient will be tested in the first quarter of 2018 and outcomes will be measured after a year.

What this means for Usher syndrome: If GenSight’s therapy succeeds, it will very likely be tested in other diseases such as Usher syndrome.

GenSight Biologics, a biopharma company focused on discovering and developing innovative gene therapies for retinal neurodegenerative diseases and central nervous system disorders, announced UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) acceptance of the Company’s Clinical Trial Application (CTA) to initiate the PIONEER Phase I/II study of GS030 in patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).

Registration is now open! International Symposium on Usher Syndrome
USH2018: July 19-21, 2018 in Mainz, Germany

A broad alliance of institutions presents the 4th International Scientific Symposium on Usher Syndrome and the International Patient Symposium (10th Annual USH Connections Conference). Visit for more details.

Raghavi Sudharsan, Daniel P. Beiting, Gustavo D. Aguirre, William A. Beltran

In studying the late stages of disease in two different canine models of retinitis pigmentosa, a group of progressive and inherited blinding diseases, researchers found commonalities, specifically involving the innate immune system. The findings point to potential new treatment options for the conditions.

jCyte, one of the leaders in developing cell-based therapies for RP, announces positive 12-month results from its Phase 1/2a clinical trial to treat retinitis pigmentosa with stem cells.

Thanks to everyone who rushed to our aid during our recent request for funding. I am sorry if I scared anyone. I should have stressed that the Usher Syndrome Coalition is not going anywhere! It’s really just a question of the depth of services we will be able to provide the community.

Here in the world of Usher syndrome, we are torn asunder by the forces of the future. Everyone looks ahead to a time when there will be treatments, when there will be a cure, when things are fixed.

Usher syndrome is the most common cause of deafness associated with visual loss of a genetic origin. The purpose of this paper is to report very severe phenotypic features of type 1B Usher syndrome in a Saudi family affected by a positive homozygous splice site mutation in MYO7A gene. This mutation manifested with advanced retinal degeneration at a young age.

What this means for Usher syndrome: Individuals with this particular mutation may experience more severe symptoms than other Usher 1B patients.

Geng R, Omar A., Gopal SR, Chen DH, Stepanyan R, Basch ML, Dinculescu A, Furness DN, Saperstein D, Hauswirth W, Lustig LR, Alagramam KN

Researchers developed a new USH3 mouse model that displays delayed-onset progressive hearing loss, then tested a viral therapy to preserve hearing in the mouse models. Their results show that gene therapy is a promising approach to preserve hearing in USH3 patients.

While we wait for treatments, the Coalition is what makes life bearable.

Samantha R. De Silva, Alun R. Barnard, Steven Hughes, Shu K. E. Tam, Chris Martin, Mandeep S. Singh, Alona O. Barnea-Cramer, Michelle E. McClements, Matthew J. During, Stuart N. Peirson, Mark W. Hankins and Robert E. MacLaren

Oxford researchers have shown that gene therapy might help reverse blindness caused by retinitis pigmentosa by reprogramming cells at the back of the eye to become light sensitive.

View the journal publication of this study:

If you believe the Usher Syndrome Coalition has improved your life in any way, I hope you will join me in ensuring its continued existence.

In this USH Talk, Hester van Diepen provides an overview of the Usher development program at ProQR Therapeutics as an approach for possible future treatment of USH2A-associated retinitis pigmentosa.

Alice Emptoz, Vincent Michel, Andrea Lelli, Omar Akil, Jacques Boutet de Monvel, Ghizlene Lahlou, Anaïs Meyer, Typhaine Dupont, Sylvie Nouaille, Elody Ey, Filipa Franca de Barros, Mathieu Beraneck, Didier Dulon, Jean-Pierre Hardelin, Lawrence Lustig, Paul Avan, Christine Petit, Saaid Safieddine

Scientists have recently restored hearing and balance in a mouse model of Usher syndrome type 1G characterized by profound congenital deafness and vestibular disorders caused by severe dysmorphogenesis of the mechanoelectrical transduction apparatus of the inner ear's sensory cells. These findings open up new possibilities for the development of gene therapy treatments for hereditary forms of deafness.

Parents can listen to an informative and practical 2-part presentation focusing on educational considerations and suggestions for children with Usher syndrome.

Katharine Rose blogs about how the essence of life seems to always come down to the small and simple things, to the things we often don’t think about, the things we take for granted, the things we forget are gifted to us as human beings: our ability to see and hear, taste and smell, walk and breathe.

I'm grateful to have had so many decades of my life completely unaware of Usher syndrome. But now that I know that I have it, I think often about how Usher syndrome isn't something that everyone knows about.

The primary purpose of the Own the Equinox campaign is to raise awareness about Usher syndrome. The second purpose of Own the Equinox is to raise funds for the Usher Syndrome Coalition.

Usher Syndrome Society, in collaboration with the Usher Syndrome Coalition, is Owning the Equinox and taking New York City by a storm by bringing awareness to Usher syndrome (USH). Check out Usher Syndrome Society's Outdoor Awareness Exhibit in Washington Square Park on September 12th!

Usher Syndrome Awareness Day and the Own the Equinox campaign are first about raising awareness for Usher syndrome. By building a community and gaining global recognition for Usher syndrome we move closer to a cure.

A plea to the Usher syndrome community: do not rely on testimonials and press releases to influence your medical treatment decisions.

Danay Trest submitted a proclamation request to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, who recognized September 17, 2016 as Usher Syndrome Awareness Day. Now let's make this happen in YOUR state.

The Usher Syndrome Coalition is pleased to announce that the USH Trust registry is now available in German. | NEU! NEU! NEU!: Das Usher Syndrom Register in deutscher Sprache! Wir freuen uns mitzuteilen, dass das Usher Register “USH Trust” ab sofort in deutscher Sprache verfügbar ist.

The conference transcript and presentation slides from the annual Usher Syndrome (USH) Connections Conference are now available!

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June, Cochlear’s Nucleus 7 Sound Processor can now stream sound directly from a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to the sound processor.

Nikolas L. Jorstad, Matthew S. Wilken, William N. Grimes, Stefanie G. Wohl, Leah S. VandenBosch, Takeshi Yoshimatsu, Rachel O. Wong, Fred Rieke, & Thomas A. Reh

NEI-funded researchers use a clue from zebrafish to discover the cues that reprogram Müller glia into retinal neurons.

Learn more about having your portrait taken and your story told to give a face and voice to Usher syndrome through photojournalism and art.

In this USH Talk, Dr. Shannon Boye summarizes efforts to develop a dual AAV vector-based gene therapy for Myosin7a Usher syndrome (USH1B). The drawbacks of USH1B mouse models and a rationale for testing these vectors in a more clinically relevant species are discussed.

Sarath Vijayakumar Frederic F. Depreux Francine M. Jodelka Jennifer J. Lentz Frank Rigo Timothy A. Jones Michelle L. Hastings.

These findings provide the first direct evidence of an effective treatment of peripheral vestibular function in a mouse model of USH1C and reveal the potential for using antisense technology to treat vestibular dysfunction.

If you’ve followed any of my involvement with the Usher community over the years, from blog posts to ARVO updates to speaking at our family conferences and making dorky USH Talk videos, it should come as no surprise to you that I’m a big proponent of science communication and outreach.

Challenge friends and family to create a short video dancing to an Usher song in hopes of getting Usher the singer to perform a benefit concert to raise awareness and funds to find treatments and a cure for Usher syndrome.

In this USH Talk, Dr. Hannie Kremer explains genetic testing of the USH2A gene, as conducted at the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

Students with Usher syndrome at Gallaudet University are now able to benefit from a scholarship fund established in 2015 in honor of Linda Annala, '70, an influential leader in the deaf-blind community.

Scientists at the Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School have spent several years refining a technique to repair one of the common genetic disorders that cause deafness, offering hope to millions. The genetic disorder they repaired is Usher syndrome.

Jennifer Phillips, Ph.D. highlights the importance of forging "connections with people who have expertise in different areas" of Usher syndrome.

Jennifer Phillips, Ph.D." on defining “Failure”: Disclosing when things don’t work and understanding WHY is a really important, though often overlooked realm of research. Here are a couple of USH1 research stories from today’s presentations that illustrate that point.

Jennifer Phillips, Ph.D.: Several of the talks on Day 3 at ARVO 2017 delved into the biology of what, specifically, causes photoreceptor cells to die in retinitis pigmentosa patients.

Jennifer Phillips, Ph.D. recaps ARVO 2017 Day 2 with highlights on Usher syndrome type 2A research from Erwin van Wijk and colleagues at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands and RP research by Neena Haider and her team at Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

Jennifer Phillips, Ph.D. shares highlights of Usher syndrome research from ARVO 2017.

If you tell your story, if you share your dream, if you reach out for help, you might just be surprised who will reach back out to help and tell their story, and share their dream, to you.

Encouraging signs this week that the FDA is serious when it granted Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy (RMAT) status to the CIRM-funded jCyte clinical trial for a rare form of blindness. This is a big deal because RMAT seeks to accelerate approval for stem cell therapies that demonstrate they can help patients with unmet medical needs.

Dr. Gema García-García shares strategies for the molecular diagnosis of Usher syndrome used at the Health Research Institute Hospital La Fe in Valencia, Spain. | En este USH Talk, Dr. Gema García-García presenta strategias para el estudio molecular del Síndrome de Usher.

jCyte is working on a treatment for the broad spectrum of Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Jie Zhu, Chang Ming, Xin Fu, Yaou Duan, Duc Anh Hoang, Jeffrey Rutgard, Runze Zhang, Wenqiu Wang, Rui Hou, Daniel Zhang, Edward Zhang, Charlotte Zhang, Xiaoke Hao, Wenjun Xiong, Kang Zhang.

Using the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9, researchers have reprogrammed mutated rod photoreceptors to become functioning cone photoreceptors, reversing cellular degeneration and restoring visual function in two mouse models of retinitis pigmentosa.

For more information on this study:

The next International Symposium on Usher Syndrome will be held in conjunction with our 10th USH Connections Conference in Mainz, Germany, July 19-21, 2018.

HKNC is a one-of-a-kind facility for folks living with deaf-blindness. All classes and training are done one-on-one with individual instructors and focus on orientation and mobility, communication, technology and even organizing money and writing checks.

In this USH Talk, Megan Cote provides a brief overview of the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB), their six national initiatives and ways in which they can connect families to support and training at the state and national level.

Usher syndrome is, and will remain, a rare disease. Turns out it may be rarer than we thought.

Researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine showed that gene therapy was able to restore balance and hearing in genetically modified mice that mimic Usher Syndrome.

Kevin Isgrig, Jack W. Shteamer, Inna A. Belyantseva, Meghan C. Drummond, Tracy S. Fitzgerald, Sarath Vijayakumar, Sherri M. Jones, Andrew J. Griffith, Thomas B. Friedman, Lisa L. Cunningham, Wade W. Chien

For more information on this study:

Splash Magazines' Andrew DeCanniere interviews Mark Dunning, Chair of the Coalition, about the upcoming USH Connections Conference, the state of Usher syndrome research and the Usher Syndrome Coalition community.

Foundation Fighting Blindness Press Release (Columbia, MD) - A Cautionary Tale About the Need to Educate Patients and Advance Research to Produce Treatments with Proven Efficacy, Says Foundation Fighting Blindness

Take action NOW to let your members of Congress know you're counting on them to reject these cuts and to prioritize Usher syndrome research funding.

Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and colleagues from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an approach to replace damaged sound-sensing hair cells, which eventually may lead to therapies for people who live with disabling hearing loss.

Allergan and Editas Medicine have made an alliance to work with the gene-editing CRISPR to help prevent vision deterioration.

In this study, researchers introduced CRISPR into retinal cells, tested this genome tool to remove the Nrl gene in mice and three different mouse models of retinal degeneration. By measuring gene expression and examining the retinal cells, the researchers confirmed that rods became more cone-like, as predicted which allowed for rod degeneration to be prevented or slowed.

Yu W, Mookherjee S, Chaitankar V, Hiriyanna S, Kim JW, Brooks M, Ataeijiannati Y, Sun X, Dong L, Li T, Swaroop A, Wu Z

For more information on this study:

Scientists have developed a retinal implant that can restore lost vision in rats, and are planning to trial the procedure in humans later this year. The implant, which converts light into an electrical signal that stimulates retinal neurons, could give hope to millions who experience retinal degeneration – including retinitis pigmentosa – in which photoreceptor cells in the eye begin to break down, leading to blindness.

Researchers are working to find how fish can regenerate their eyes after they have been injured and if there is a way to make this happen the same way in a human eye.

Mark Dunning does the Usher Dance Challenge #usher4ushersyndrome.

Written Testimony of Stacey Breshears of Claremore, Oklahoma Labor, prepared for the Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations.

One of these studies in Pennesi's trials is on the UshStat gene therapy trial for Usher syndrome Type 1B (MYO7A). More information on that study in the link below:

"Dr. Imanishi is being recognized for his remarkable contributions to the field of vision science and the significant impact of his research" -Alan R. Morse, JD, PhD, President and CEO of Lighthouse Guild.

Kate's call for sunsets is for all of us.

In this USH Talk, Dr. Erwin van Wijk shows that AON-based splice correction could be a promising approach for the development of a future treatment for USH2A-associated retinitis pigmentosa caused by the deep-intronic c.7595-2144A>G mutation.

Andrea Oza, Genetic Counselor at the Laboratory for Molecular Medicine, shares how new advances in genetic testing mean that children and adults with Usher syndrome are being diagnosed at an earlier age than ever before.

Members of the USH community can participate in the Walk4Hearing in support of the Usher Syndrome Coalition. Here are the dates and locations for 2017 walks.

The latest news from the Usher Syndrome Coalition: Register for the 9th Annual USH Connections Conference, watch new USH Talks and more!

Scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), MIT, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear believe they may have found a way to treat hearing loss by regenerating hair cells in the inner ear and hope to begin clinical trials in 18 months.

An overview of five technological products that can help the visually impaired.

The prestigious Institute of Ocular Microsurgery in Barcelona implanted the first patient in Spain with IRIS® II, a bionic vision system equipped with a bio-inspired camera and a 150-electrode epi-retinal implant that is designed to be explantable.

Not just Star Trek fiction, a new visor from eSight is a lightweight, high-contrast vision system for legally blind people.

Chimeras are incredibly useful for understanding how animals grow and develop. They might one day be used to grow life-saving organs that can be transplanted into humans.

Lukas D Landegger, Bifeng Pan, Charles Askew, Sarah J Wassmer, Sarah D Gluck, Alice Galvin, Ruth Taylor, Andrew Forge, Konstantina M Stankovic, Jeffrey R Holt & Luk H Vandenberghe.

Two back-to-back papers in Nature Biotechnology describe how a team at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School developed a new vector for gene delivery and restored hearing and balance in a mouse model with the Ush1c mutation.

Bifeng Pan, Charles Askew, Alice Galvin, Selena Heman-Ackah, Yukako Asai, Artur A Indzhykulian, Francine M Jodelka, Michelle L Hastings, Jennifer J Lentz, Luk H Vandenberghe, Jeffrey R Holt& Gwenaëlle S Géléoc.

Working with a mouse model of a human mutation, Dr. Gwen Géléoc and colleagues delivered a normal copy of the USH1C gene to the inner ear soon after the mice were born, which led to robust improvements enabling profoundly deaf and dizzy mice to hear sounds at the level of whispers and recover proper balance function.

Dr. Gwen Géléoc shares exciting news on progress made towards gene therapy for USH1C. Working with a mouse model of a human mutation, Dr. Géléoc and colleagues delivered a normal copy of the USH1C gene to the inner ear soon after the mice were born, which led to robust improvements enabling profoundly deaf and dizzy mice to hear sounds at the level of whispers and recover proper balance function. Dr. Géléoc is cautiously optimistic that successes in the lab will someday lead to novel therapeutic approaches in the clinic.

On January 29, 1929, The Seeing Eye, Inc., an organization that trains guide dogs for their blind companions, was founded. Guide dogs help to increase the independence and give back freedom to people who are blind. See more about the beginning of the guide dog movement in the United States from CBS News “Sunday Morning”.

The FDA has granted GenSight’s developing drug, GS030, Orphan Drug Disease Designation for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa.

Our latest USH Talk features researcher Dr. Jacque Duncan from the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Duncan shares an overview of an upcoming clinical trial that aims to study the rate of progression of USH2A related retinal degeneration: The RUSH2A Study.

Press Release: (Columbia, MD) - The Foundation Fighting Blindness Clinical Research Institute (FFB-CRI) has announced an investment of up to $7.5 million to advance a promising, emerging drug treatment for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) into and through a Phase II clinical trial. Read More...

Children with Usher syndrome will be the major beneficiaries of research on Usher syndrome. But where are these children? Nancy O'Donnell, Director of the USH Trust, ponders this question in an upcoming webinar hosted by the National Center on Deaf-Blindness.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness Clinical Research Institute (FFB-CRI) has announced an investment of up to $7.5 million to advance the potential therapy into and through a Phase II clinical trial for the usage of N-acetylcysteine-amide (NACA). NACA has recently emerged as a promising drug for Retinitis Pigmentosa because in several FFB-funded lab studies at Johns Hopkins University, it has slowed down retinal degeneration.

Watch our latest USH Talk from Boston Children's Hospital pediatric ear, nose and throat doctor, Margaret Kenna.

Family physician, Annmaree Yee, shares what it was like coming out of the closet with Usher syndrome.

Watch our latest USH Talk from Certified Genetic Counselor and Coalition Board Director, Karmen Trzupek: Genetics 101

This book is a unique collection of 27 powerful stories by individuals who are experiencing or witnessing the challenges of losing not one, but two senses: hearing and sight.

Arts for USH (formerly Kidz b Kidz/KbK) and the Corderman family are bringing awareness of Usher syndrome to the Needham community.

So here we are, a group of diverse people, angry, frustrated, worried, and shocked. Yet, despite all of that, we here in the Usher Syndrome Community have NEVER been more united.

This Giving Tuesday, we're giving back to YOU, our USH Family, with the release of our first USH Talk, a new podcast for the Usher syndrome community.

Researchers have discovered a holy grail of gene editing -- the ability to, for the first time, insert DNA at a target location into the non-dividing cells that make up the majority of adult organs and tissues. The technique, which the team showed was able to partially restore visual responses in blind rodents, will open new avenues for basic research and a variety of treatments, such as for retinal, heart and neurological diseases.

Mark Dunning describes how the one thing he did right as a parent is all the stuff he did wrong. He failed. Often miserably.

Today, we are joining forces with patient organizations across the nation to call on Congress to pass the 21st Century Cures Act.

The Usher Syndrome Coalition is posting this on behalf of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) Genetic Counseling Training Program:

UAB student Caitlin Wright is currently recruiting parents for a study examining the psychosocial impact on parents who have children diagnosed with Usher syndrome. With this study, they hope to compare parent experiences for those whose children received a diagnosis at a young age to those who received a diagnosis at a later age. Participation involves a 30 minute interview in English (by phone or in person).

Usher syndrome has brought Kate to a crossroad, but she is determined to choose the right path.

Dr. Sahel plans to try to restore sight using several breakthrough treatments he helped pioneer at the Vision Institute, a research center he founded in Paris.

Good news! There are a LOT of potential treatments coming for people with Usher syndrome.

Frederic F. Depreux, Lingyan Wang, Han Jiang, Francine M. Jodelka, Robert F. Rosencrans, Frank Rigo, Jennifer J. Lentz, John V. Brigande and Michelle L. Hastings.

ASO delivery to the intra-amniotic cavity modulates neonatal gene expression and may serve as a therapeutic intervention in itself or when paired with a suitable postnatal therapeutic strategy. Further optimization of the method will broaden the potential impact and applicability of this approach.

This battle with Usher syndrome is never going to be over. Not until we truly have won.

One day Usher syndrome will be no more, our efforts possibly celebrated but then, eventually, forgotten.

Danay's passion in life is to spread awareness of Usher syndrome and advocate for the deafblind community.

It became very clear to Molly at 14 years old that she somehow needed to raise awareness of her condition to educate and inform those around her about how she felt, what she needed and how they could help.

Qing Fu, Mingchu Xu, Xue Chen, Xunlun Sheng, Zhisheng Yuan, Yani Liu, Huajin Li, Zixi Sun, Huiping Li, Lizhu Yang, Keqing Wang, Fangxia Zhang ,Yumei Li, Chen Zhao, Ruifang Sui, Rui Chen.

This study aimed to identify the novel disease-causing gene of a distinct subtype of Usher syndrome.

UsherKids Australia was born from hope and the desire to make the journey through diagnosis and treatment easier for the Usher syndrome families that will follow in our path.

Here we are, celebrating the second annual “Own the Equinox” campaign for Usher Syndrome Awareness Day. Carol Brill hopes we do not have too many more of these campaigns.

Zong, Chen, Wu, Liu, Jiang.

Identification of novel mutation in compound heterozygosity in MYO7A gene revealed the genetic origin of Usher syndrome type 2 in this Han family.

We are all working together to eradicate Usher syndrome from the face of this earth, and we will win.

Sophia's thoughts on Usher syndrome: "We need to raise awareness, stand united, educate and find some damn cures. I believe through the Own the Equinox campaign we can do that."

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of Coalition Board Director Danay Trest, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant Proclaimed Usher Syndrome Awareness Day on September 17th, 2016.

We could change things because now we were two: two families in one region with all the same doctors. We had the power of our voice to advocate for all families with kids with Usher syndrome in Australia. And so UsherKids Australia was born.

Life is full of challenges. This is Sarah's. And as we approach Usher Syndrome Awareness Day, reading the stories, learning more, and helping us inspire change is yours.

Diana is owning the equinox in Mexico. "A new journey is just starting, for our challenge and for our cause. There are new opportunities to witness kindness, to learn something, to change our possibilities, to prove ourselves again that we can do more than we believe."

Bettina likes to use the words fighters, surfers and brave to describe children with Usher syndrome. She uses the same words to describe their families. Here's why...

Caroline Brown, Fairbanks Alaska resident and marathoner, passes the marathoning baton to her 6 year old boys for the second Own the Equinox campaign. Galen (with USH 1b) and David will run their own fundraiser with hopes of crushing their mom's performance last year!

How many people have we met and how many stories have we shared, and how many times have we cried together, and laughed together and been able to bond with those in our Usher Family whom we never would have met before?

Mary O'Brien was not a doctor. She wasn’t a professional in the field. She didn’t even have a family member with Usher syndrome. But she had a knack for treating Bella, for helping her deal with Usher syndrome.

As with Chloe's experience of parenthood in general, life post-Usher diagnosis has consisted of a series of phases.

In honor of Usher Syndrome Awareness Day on September 17th, Bill Barkeley, deaf-blind adventurer, advocate & storyteller, is hiking the Camino de Santiago - 533 miles from France into Spain.

Ryan Thomason is a husband, father, runner and a nerd with Usher syndrome Type 2. He describes how his life has changed over the past year because of Usher syndrome.

Nancy Corderman and Kidz b Kidz are giving a face and a voice to Usher syndrome so we can raise awareness and funds.

Clare Weigel describes how on March 22, 2013 everything transformed about her, the way she thought, the way she saw the world, and her perception of herself.

Today Martha along with her guide dog, Alvin, begin a walking and literary journey over the next 26 days for the Usher Syndrome Coalition’s “Own the Equinox” campaign.

Last year, throughout the first Own the Equinox campaign, Kate was on the outside looking in. Now, this year, she is ready to step out and speak up.

We live with Usher syndrome, and I mean live with it. Every day it is there, always there.

Walking or running isn’t your thing? Well, that’s OK. There are lots of ways you can raise awareness about Usher syndrome.

Break out the canes, harness up the dogs, grab an elbow and give a face to Usher syndrome.

Booked my flight to Australia. On Usher Syndrome Awareness day I will be Owning the Equinox with Usher families in Melbourne.

Last year we said we needed an Usher Syndrome Awareness Day. Then we went out, and with the help of Senator Wyden and his staff, we got one. The third Saturday in September was declared “Usher Syndrome Awareness Day” and written into the Congressional Record.

Learn more about what it means to have Usher Syndrome, what is being done in Louisiana, and how patients, families and doctors can work together to help those losing their sight.

Saturday, July 9th, 2016: View the program, presentations and transcript from our 8th Annual Usher Syndrome Family Conference held in Seattle, our first sold-out event!

Kidz b Kidz and the Usher Syndrome Coalition are partnering to give a face and voice to Usher syndrome through photojournalism and art.

Poetry and prose by Kate Morell reflecting on the role Usher syndrome has played in her life.

Our apologies to anyone who wished to attend the 2016 Usher Syndrome Family Conference in Seattle but has not yet registered.

Tongchao Li, Nikolaos Giagtzoglou, Dan Eberl, Sonal Nagarkar-Jaiswal, Tiantian Cai, Dorothea Godt, Andrew K Groves, Hugo J Bellen.

Myosins play essential roles in the development and function of auditory organs and multiple myosin genes are associated with hereditary forms of deafness. Our work reveals a novel mechanism that regulates protein complexes affected in two forms of syndromic deafness and suggests a molecular function for Myosin IIa in auditory organs.

João Carlos Ribeiro, Bárbara Oliveiros, Paulo Pereira, Natália António, Thomas Hummel, António Paiva & Eduardo D. Silva

Study aimed at identifying and characterizing putative differences in olfactory capacity between patients with USH and controls, as well as among the subtypes of USH.

The Usher Syndrome Coalition was one of the grant recipients selected from a pool of 137 applicants requesting over $1.4 million in total. Global Genes is committed to meeting the collective need of the 350 million patients and hundreds of advocacy groups fighting for treatments and cures for over 7,000 rare diseases.

Moira Shea, the Vice Chair of the Usher Syndrome Coalition, writes about how she came to her "a-ha" moment while living with Usher syndrome.

Members of the USH community can participate in the Walk4Hearing in support of the Usher Syndrome Coalition. Here are the dates and locations for 2016 walks.

‘I wish I were a psychologist,’ I think. ‘I wish I knew exactly what to say.’ Sometimes I shy away from writing, not knowing exactly what to say. Afraid my words may not be exactly what others want to read.

Kumar N Alagramam, Suhasini R Gopal, Ruishuang Geng, Daniel H-C Chen, Ina Nemet, Richard Lee, Guilian Tian, Masaru Miyagi, Karine F Malagu, Christopher J Lock, William R K Esmieu, Andrew P Owens, Nicola A Lindsay, Krista Ouwehand, Faywell Albertus, David F Fischer, Roland W Bürli, Angus M MacLeod, William E Harte, Krzysztof Palczewski & Yoshikazu Imanishi.

A new study published in Nature Chemical Biology reports the first small molecule targeted therapy for progressive hearing loss in a mouse model of USH3, an USH classified by progressive loss of hearing and vision starting in the first few decades of life along with variable balance disorder.

Written Testimony of Anne Croy of St. Louis, Missouri. Prepared for the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies United States Senate Committee on Appropriations Mother of a 29 year old daughter with Usher syndrome Type 2 and a member of the Usher Syndrome Coalition.

Written Testimony of Carmen Marottolo, Jr. of Durham, Connecticut, prepared for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations.

The key to advancing research into treatments for Usher syndrome is community. Not just a community, but a genetically-diagnosed and accessible community.

In the latest Mediaplanet USA, Nancy O'Donnell, director of the International Usher Syndrome Registry reminds us of the importance of being recognized as someone with - or a parent of a child with - Usher syndrome. Of the 400,000 people worldwide dealing with Usher syndrome, the research community is in touch with less than 1%. We aim to change that:

Today, we ask you all to reach out to your representatives to encourage them to sign on to a Dear Colleague letter by Tuesday, March 22nd, supporting Usher syndrome report language.

The Usher Syndrome Coalition spent a busy two days in Washington, DC. For those of you in the US, stay tuned for a call to action very soon.

To be fiercely independent. Determined. Persevering. Tenacious. Kate wonders if these qualities go hand in hand with Usher syndrome.

Guilian Tian, Richard Lee, Philip Ropelewski, and Yoshikazu Imanishi

The purpose of this study was to obtain an Usher syndrome type III mouse model with retinal phenotype.

Mark Dunning describes his dream of the Usher Syndrome Coalition working with researchers and the National Institutes of Health to identify the most valuable research and the steps that will quickly deliver viable treatments to the Usher syndrome community.

Researchers study genotype–phenotype correlations and compared visual prognosis in Usher syndrome type IIa and nonsyndromic RP.

In the next month, scientists from RetroSense Therapeutics will inject a virus deep into the retina of legally blind human volunteers. If this works, it means that optogenetics — a revolutionary neuroscience technique using channelrhodopsin-2 and other light-activated proteins — is feasible in humans as therapy.

If only I had left my words to be found. If only I had the voice to speak the words I wrote. All I had to do was tell someone, anyone. All I had to do was tell someone those words.

Made possible by the Global Genes RARE Patient Impact Grant, the 2016 USH Family Conference Scholarship Program offers assistance to individuals and families who might otherwise be unable to attend the 8th Annual Usher Syndrome Conference in Seattle, Washington.

Astra Dinculescu , Rachel M. Stupay , Wen-Tao Deng, Frank M. Dyka, Seok-Hong Min, Sanford L. Boye, Vince A. Chiodo, Carolina E. Abrahan, Ping Zhu, Qiuhong Li, Enrica Strettoi, Elena Novelli, Kerstin Nagel-Wolfrum, Uwe Wolfrum, W. Clay Smith, William W. Hauswirth.

The ongoing challenge to develop an animal model mimicking the effects of Usher III (in particular, the loss of vision) makes it impossible for researchers to test therapies in development using conventional means. This study has important implications for designing gene therapy studies in a rational manner, to produce Clarin-1 in the correct cell type and at levels that mimic its natural production.

Usher syndrome can mean a lot of things, including community and friendships and family. Wonderful uplifting exhilarating things. But Usher syndrome is also a place with bogs and lowlands where the mist gathers and the sadness pools.

Hidekane Yoshimura, Maiko Miyagawa, Kozo Kumakawa, Shin-ya Nishio, and Shin-ichi Usami.

This first report describing the frequency (1.3–2.2%) of USH1 among non-syndromic deaf children highlights the importance of comprehensive genetic testing for early disease diagnosis.

Born in Italy, Dario Sorgato was diagnosed with Usher syndrome type II at the age of 16. Dario describes his passion for travel and adventure and some tips he has collected along the way.

Experiences of a Young Clueless Boy: A little brother's view of Usher syndrome.

Meet Nancy O'Donnell, the new Director of the Usher Syndrome Coalition's International Registry. Nancy looks forward to meeting YOU, the experts with Usher syndrome around the world.

A research group in Valencia, Spain is investigating new therapeutic approaches for Usher syndrome, including the potential impact of vitamins and antioxidants to reduce the progression of the disease.

Moira Shea has Usher syndrome 2A, wears hearing aids and is totally blind. She also has a rock star guide dog named Finnegan.

Licensed genetic counselors Andrea Oza and Danielle Azzariti provide a glimpse of the inner workings of a genetics laboratory and the value of sharing information within the research community.

Maha S. Zaki, Raoul Heller, Michaela Thoenes, Gudrun Nürnberg, Gabi Stern-Schneider, Peter Nürnberg, Srikanth Karnati, Daniel Swan, Ekram Fateen, Kerstin Nagel-Wolfrum, Mostafa I. Mostafa, Holger Thiele, Uwe Wolfrum, Eveline Baumgart-Vogt, Hanno J. Bolz.

This paper found that a family with severe enamel dysplasia that was initially diagnosed with Usher syndrome didn’t have Usher syndrome but instead had mutations in the PEX6 gene.

In the first of our Guest Research Blog Series, we hear from Dr. Gwenaëlle Géléoc who is working to restore hearing in a mouse model of Usher syndrome that would otherwise be deaf. "My hope is that successes in the lab will one day be translated into treatments for Usher patients."

Your participation in the Usher syndrome community is vital to us. The registry is a powerful tool for learning about Usher syndrome and could possibly be the first step to finding new treatments. All of that starts with you.

On March 19, 2015, the Usher Syndrome Coalition, in partnership with the Wynn Institute for Vision Research at the University of Iowa, held a Congressional briefing on Usher syndrome, featuring Edwin Stone, MD, PhD

The Usher Syndrome Coalition provides critical support for research. The Usher Syndrome Coalition does not fund research or do research. But we provide everything else, literally everything else, that is necessary to bring treatments to the clinic.

Daily Mail UK story on sisters India and Samira Cox and how Usher Syndrome has impacted their lives.

Here in the U.S. we are coming up on our traditional Thanksgiving Holiday. I figured it was a good time to say thank you to everyone who has helped the Usher Syndrome Coalition and the Usher syndrome community this year.

The Usher syndrome community lost one of our best this week when Steffen Suchert passed away.

Bella is fine. Julia and I are both under strict orders to stop worrying. She doesn’t like seeing us sad or mopey. She doesn’t want us to ask how she is doing. The answer is she is fine.

There is a formula for finding treatments for Usher syndrome and getting them into the clinic. Mark knows because he just made it up.

22 young investigators - including Astra Dinculescu, Ph.D., Usher syndrome researcher - attended AEVR’s annual AMD Congressional briefing entitled 'Advances in the Diagnosis and Treatment of AMD and Retinal Diseases.'

Kerry Thompson shares her story about the challenges she has faced living with Usher syndrome, and how her family has played an essential role in her success.

The Sun Star covers Brian Switzer and the Usher community's participation in the Equinox Marathon.

Splash Magazine interviews USH Chairman Mark Dunning.

A writer from HuffPost Impact shares her niece's story and their experience with the USH community.

Alaska Dispatch News reports on the Fairbanks’ Equinox Marathon and USH's campaign Own the Equinox.

Diana lives in Mexico City and has Usher syndrome type II. She has become an active member in the Usher community and aspires to do so much more for others with Usher syndrome, both globally and locally.

Collin helped create, an organization working to raise awareness and fund treatments in Holland. Collin also has Usher syndrome type 2a.

St. Louis Today writes about a special dessert served at Pastaria, which will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Usher Syndrome Coalition.

Ramona Rice has a strong desire to make a difference as a proud "Usher Chick" and feels genuinely blessed to be one of Usher Syndrome Coalition's members.

Brian Switzer has a deep love for running. He also has Usher syndrome. That won't stop him from running one of the world's most difficult marathon courses on Usher Syndrome Awareness Day.

Alaska Public Media covers Equinox Marathon runners taking part in the first ever Usher Syndrome Awareness Day and “Own the Equinox”.

Caroline Kaczor describes her unique connection to Usher syndrome and her best friend, Rebecca Alexander.

Rebecca Alexander reflects on her path towards self-acceptance. "Having Usher syndrome humbles me not just every day but often every hour and sometimes even by the minute."

On Saturday, September 19th, in honor of Usher Syndrome Awareness Day, the Rose Family will walk together in hope – because we do have much to hope for.

Dominique is working to create an Austrian Usher Community, connecting it to the worldwide Usher Family and to international experts of Usher syndrome. To her, raising awareness means giving hope to people with Usher syndrome and their families.

Lorne Marin describes how he deals with his diagnosis on a daily basis and his climb to raise awareness for Usher syndrome: “I don’t always like climbing. I always like having climbed.”

Danay shares how she has handled her diagnosis and how she endeavors to raise awareness for Usher syndrome from Brandon, Mississippi.

Markku from Finland wants to spread awareness of Usher syndrome and tell the world that a person with Usher can manage fine in life.

Anne Jalakas is a journalist at the National Resource Centre for Deafblindness in Sweden. She is helping raise awareness for Usher syndrome and the entire deafblind community.

Ryan Thomason was diagnosed with Usher syndrome when he was 27 years old. On September 19th, the world's first Usher Syndrome Awareness Day, he will run as far as he can in order to Own the Equinox.

With the autumnal equinox only two short weeks away, we need this Usher Syndrome Awareness Day. We need to Own the Equinox, push back the sunset, accomplish more than anyone thought possible.

Bettina Kastrup Pedersen works with children with Usher syndrome in Denmark. She describes these kids in three words: surfers, fighters and brave.

Lichun Jiang, Xiaofang Liang, Yumei Li, Jing Wang, Jacques Eric Zaneveld, Hui Wang, Shan Xu, Keqing Wang, Binbin Wang, Rui Chen and Ruifang Sui.

Researchers applied next generation sequencing to characterize the mutation spectrum in 67 independent Chinese families with at least one member diagnosed with USH.

Rachel Chaikof advocates for change from Cameroon for Usher Syndrome Awareness Day.

In the build up to Usher Syndrome Awareness Day, Chloe is tweeting excerpts from a love letter that she is writing to her daughter, about the hopes and dreams she has for her in spite, because and in the face of Usher syndrome.

Carol Brill refuses to remain invisible as she passionately raises awareness for Usher syndrome and campaigns the Irish government to recognise deafblindness as a unique disability.

Moira Shea can see the treatments coming. They are just ahead of us. Usher syndrome will fade away as our vision for a cure remains strong. So set the challenge for September 19th and own the equinox, when the world goes more into darkness than light. The light will come back.

Since Day 1, Elise and her family have been trying to make Usher syndrome common knowledge.

In honor of Usher Syndrome Awareness Day on 19 September, Molly wants to show the world what our community looks like.

Every day, a person with Usher syndrome faces numerous obstacles. Despite this, Jessica refuses to let anything stop her.

Dave is the father of two children, the youngest has Usher syndrome. The family live in Melbourne, Australia, where Dave will run a marathon on 19 September for Usher Syndrome Awareness Day.

Caroline Brown, Fairbanks resident, marathoner, and most importantly, mom to Galen (5) who has Usher syndrome—provides an initial glimpse into her world of running the Equinox marathon as a fundraiser for Usher syndrome research.

USA Today helps shine a spotlight on Usher syndrome in Mediaplanet's Vision and Hearing Health supplement: "Early Diagnosis is Critical for Children with Usher Syndrome" and "The Power of Community: Usher Syndrome Families Inch Closer to a Cure"

Hanna Cluley shares her story about "No Barriers," a great program for people with special needs.

Zhai, Jin, Gong, Qu, Zhao, Li

Ophthalmic examinations and audiometric tests were performed to identify the pathogenic mutations in a Chinese pedigree affected with Usher syndrome type II (USH2), which revealed distinguished clinical phenotypes associated with MYO7A and expanded the spectrum of clinical phenotypes of the MYO7A mutations.

It’s time for our grassroots efforts to go global. Let’s make our Usher Syndrome Awareness Day span the world. You can help in ways big and small. We have a size that fits you and whatever you give will help.

Maybe running isn’t your thing. Or maybe you have an idea of your own. Go for it! Create your own a-thon and help us Own the Equinox.

You want people to know about Usher syndrome, to understand it, to fund it, to cure it. But, boy, that mile a day seems like a lot of effort. You really just don’t feel like getting off the couch.

Article detailing Lizzy Myers and her parents and their efforts to take advantage of her sight in the face of her Usher Syndrome diagnosis.

Finding treatments for the most common cause of combined deafness and blindness is extremely difficult. It seems insurmountable. But is it?

Did you know that regular exercise may actually help you keep your vision longer?

We need to cure the most common cause of combined deafness and blindness. And we can do it. On September 19th, Usher Syndrome Awareness Day, let’s demonstrate that power to make the impossible possible.

Article describing the Myers family and their daughter Lizzy living with her diagnosis of Usher Syndrome.

"Staying Alive: Saving the Retina through Neuroprotection" by Ben Shaberman, Director, Science Communications, presented at the USH2015 Family Conference

Geneticist Heidi Rehm, founding member of the USC, is "at the forefront of a genetic revolution in medicine..."
Read the full article about her career and work in Middlebury Magazine.

The Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) is pleased to announce the Summer 2015 issue of CONNECT!, an online publication that keeps you informed about HKNC’s many activities.

On September 19th, we want to Own the Equinox. We need a global Usher Syndrome Awareness Day and we're going to have one.

Elite paratriathlete Katie Kelly, who has Usher syndrome, is chasing qualification for the world championships in Chicago, to reach "her ultimate goal of competing for gold at next year’s Rio Paralympics and working to make sport more accessible for children experiencing disability.

In addition to the unprecedented ability to target and study disease genes, CRISPR/Cas has promising potential for disease therapy as well. There is reason to hope that this strange bacterial innovation could someday provide a cure for human diseases like Usher syndrome.

Becca Meyers, an elite para-swimmer from Maryland who has Usher syndrome, won an ESPY award on July 15 for Best Female Athlete with a Disability.

We no longer have to hope that someday there will be treatments. There will be. So it’s time to dream bigger than just treatments. It’s time to dream about treatments that come in time...

In March 2015, the Usher Syndrome Coalition signed on to support the 21st Century Cures Act (HR 6), along with the National Alliance for Rare Diseases (NORD) and hundreds of patient organizations.

As a member of the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR), we applaud the unanimous approval of the bill by the House and Energy Commerce Committee and commend this bipartisan victory for medical research in Congress.

I have no qualms about sharing my deepest fears with people in this Usher syndrome community. But I don’t really like writing about myself. And I really don’t like asking for help. Today I am going to attempt to do both. Hopefully you will understand why.

Saturday, July 11th, 2015: The Usher Syndrome Coalition presents the 7th Annual Usher Syndrome Family Conference, an opportunity to connect with others impacted by Usher syndrome, engage with researchers and learn the latest about causes, management and treatments of Usher syndrome.

Massachusetts researchers have made a significant advancement toward a gene therapy treatment that would reverse deafness.


I am home.

The suitcase is unpacked.

And I am home.

The following speech was delivered by Mark Dunning at the dedication ceremony for the William J. Kimberling Usher Research Laboratory.

We are in the process of transitioning to a new website. The new platform will be more accessible and available in more languages. It will also undoubtedly come with some bugs so please bear with us during the transition. Oh, and shout out a big thank you to all the volunteers, high school and college interns, who have done most of the leg work setting up the site.

Science is trial and error. Only 1 in 12 potential treatments which are tested in humans actually make it to clinic. But that number is misleading. Those that don’t result in a clinical treatment aren’t necessarily failures. They are practice runs used to adjust dosage, delivery method, and measurement criteria. We learn something from every clinical trial, but we often need a lot of them to get a treatment to clinic.

Up to this point, the focus of the presentations I’ve attended here has been on interventions designed either to correct RP at the molecular or cellular level. The progress, while promising, is also slow and complex. We’re not there yet, and the question remains for people who have RP now, what can we do in the meantime?

Part of the challenge in working out treatments for RP is that the clock is always ticking. While researchers and clinicians work like mad to figure out the mechanisms of different genetic disorders, our patients are steadily losing retinal cells.

Day 2 is in the books, and, whether by virtue of my coincidental itinerary selection or of the magnificent foresight of the ARVO Annual Meeting organizers, today’s talks and posters were the ideal ‘next level’ to the material that was presented on Day 1.

Greetings from Denver, and apologies for the long silence on this blog from me. If you were wondering whether I’d lost interest in Usher syndrome, quite the contrary! I’ve been neck-deep in some very exciting research over the past year, some of which I’ll be presenting here this week.

Bill Kimberling is a man with stories. Hundreds of stories. Thousands of stories. All of them your stories. He compiled them over decades of working with Usher syndrome families. The data, the bland details, are cataloged in wrinkled medical records stuffed in thick manila folders. The good stuff, the touching, the compelling, the inspiring, well, that he keeps locked safely in his heart.

In honor of the dedication of the William J. Kimberling Usher Research Laboratory at the University of Iowa, I ask you, I implore you, to take a few moments and share your stories of Bill.

Written Testimony of Muna I. Naash, PhD of Oklahoma Prepared for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations

You’re probably familiar with the old expression that “nothing is free, and there’s always a catch.” Fortunately, there are a few shining exceptions to this rule, and the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, also known as iCanConnect, is one of them.

I had the honor of attending Deafblind Awareness Day at the Massachusetts State House recently. I have attended many of these days and they are always amazing. I would describe why I enjoy them so, but Carl Richardson, the State House ADA Coordinator, gives a much more eloquent description than I ever could: Humbled and awed.

Usher syndrome laboratory named in honor of William Kimberling, Ph.D.

Written Testimony of Lanya McKittrick of Washington Prepared for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
Subcommittee of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations

Written Testimony of Megan Kennedy of Missouri Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations

Researchers investigated the proportion of exon deletions and duplications in PCDH15 and USH2A in 20 USH1 and 30 USH2 patients from Denmark.

Your letters and phone calls make an incredible impact. Ask your representative to sign on to a Dear Colleague letter by Tuesday, March 24th, in support of Usher syndrome research.

A few years ago there was a 5.8 earthquake in Virginia that literally shook Washington, DC. For people with Usher syndrome, there has now been a similar ground shift in Washington. Yesterday, March 19th, 2015, we held a Congressional briefing on Usher syndrome. It was an incredibly busy and exciting day.

USA Today helps shine a spotlight on Usher syndrome in Mediaplanet's Vision & Hearing Health supplement.

USA Today will be shining a spotlight on Usher Syndrome in MediaPlanet's Vision and Hearing Health supplement.

The Usher III Initiative's Scientific Director, Dr. David Saperstein, shares the latest updates on treatments under development for Usher syndrome type 3.

Usher syndrome has been added as a new category in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC). We now have visibility into the total federal dollars spent on Usher syndrome.

TELL YOUR CONGRESS MEMBERS: the Usher Syndrome Coalition is coming to Capitol Hill.

This blog has always been about families. Sure we talk about the science of Usher syndrome, the politics of Usher syndrome, the funding of Usher syndrome, but all of it, in the end, comes back to the impact of Usher syndrome on families.

Family has always been the way through this. Family is the treatment. Family is the cure. That’s how we survive Usher syndrome. We rely on family for support, for assistance, for a shoulder to cry on when things get hard.

Debra A. Thompson, Robin R. Ali, Eyal Banin, Kari E. Branham, John G. Flannery, David M. Gamm, William W. Hauswirth, John R. Heckenlively, Alessandro Iannaccone, K. Thiran Jayasundera, Naheed W. Khan, Robert S. Molday, Mark E. Pennesi, Thomas A. Reh,Richard G. Weleber, David N. Zacks, and for the Monaciano Consortium.

The present position paper outlines recent progress in gene therapy and cell therapy for this group of disorders [retinal dystrophies], and presents a set of recommendations for addressing the challenges remaining for the coming decade.

On March 19th we will host a Congressional briefing on Usher syndrome. Edwin Stone, MD, PhD, from the Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research at the University of Iowa will be the featured speaker. Ed will be talking about the exciting state of Usher syndrome research and the need

A reflection on life according to Megan Kennedy, who was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome at 22.

There are several phases of a clinical trial but phase I is the hardest. It’s that terrifying and exhilarating moment when a potential treatment that has only been tried in animals is tried in a human being for the first time.

Let’s laugh for a little while. I want to laugh. I have clinical depression and laughing is hard. It feels like gargling glass. I used to have a great sense of humor. I want it back.

Your donation helps us support and educate families, expand the Usher Syndrome Registry and use the power of an energized community to raise awareness and increase federal funding for Usher research.

I have a confession. I hate asking for money. Despise it. The fact that I am doing so should tell you just how important I believe the Usher Syndrome Coalition is to finding treatments for Usher syndrome. I have estimated that we will need $50 million annually for each of the next 18 years if we are going to find treatments for every person of every age with every type of Usher syndrome everywhere.

I am 16 years old and have Usher syndrome. I love horseback riding, photography, and agility with my dogs. This week, I am going to Ireland with my dad. I would not be able to go on this trip if it weren't for Usher Syndrome. I am very excited to meet new people and explore Ireland.

It is Halloween week so it is a good time to write about something very scary. We are at a critical point in the search for Usher treatments. There are a number of promising developments in the lab that could lead to treatments. These are getting close to clinical trial but they may never reach the clinic for one very avoidable reason:

Sweden's Nationellt Kunskapscenter För Dövblindfrågor writes about Usher Syndrome and the coalition's achievements and goals.

The Usher Syndrome Coalition's mission is to raise awareness and accelerate research for the most common cause of combined deafness and blindness. The Coalition also provides information and support to individuals and families affected by Usher syndrome.

While my dad and others speak, I’m taking over the Usher Syndrome Coalition’s Twitter handle, @UsherCoalition. To help raise awareness for Usher syndrome, I’ll be live tweeting the event with the hashtag #USHFAMILY.

We believe the key to finding viable treatments for Usher syndrome is the development of a strong Usher syndrome community, our #USHFAMILY. Please join our growing #USHFAMILY today and support our efforts by making a tax-deductible gift to the Usher Syndrome Coalition.

Fifty million dollars is a big number, an intimidating number, a number beyond the imagination of most of us. Personally I think in hundreds and thousands. Anything larger than my mortgage is almost beyond comprehension to me. Oh, I dream of winning the lottery and I can imagine owning an island in the South Pacific. But that is fantasy. It’s not something that I can really see happening. No, fifty million dollars is forever going to be beyond my reach.

Whew. It’s been a tough year in the Dunning household. I’m not writing this to appeal for sympathy but rather out of exasperation. And, as always, it’s all about Usher syndrome even when it is not. In this case, it’s about Bella and her belly.

I have not read Rebecca Alexander’s new book Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found. Don’t get me wrong. I want to read it. I was even sent an advance copy by the publisher, which was very thoughtful. Problem is I haven’t seen the book since.

Rebecca Alexander brings attention to Usher syndrome in her new memoir, available now.

Mike Walsh reminisces on his experience speaking on the Family Panel at the 2014 Usher Syndrome Family Conference at Harvard Medical School.

There is dog named Tater. And there is Bella.

Usher syndrome is about uncertainty. It is not knowing. It is fearing the future and desperately clinging to joyful moments in the present.

In an inspired moment of bravado, someone you know decided to go undercover and pretend to be blind, white cane and all, at Boston’s annual July 4th celebration, moved to July 3rd due to Hurricane Arthur.

July 2014: The Program from the USH2014 Symposium and Family Conference is Available for Download

Join David and help us bridge the gap between researchers and families through your tax deductible gift of $25 or more.

I was lucky to meet Mark, Julia, Bella and Jack Dunning a few years ago in Boston as a result of my mum finding the Usher Syndrome Coalition online.

Though he desperately wanted to be there, Bill Kimberling could not attend the International Symposium on Usher Syndrome. Personally, I couldn’t get through one presentation without thinking about Bill. Seems like I wasn’t alone as his name and likeness were on a lot of presentations.

It’s over. The largest gathering of the Usher syndrome community in history. Three days, four nights, nearly fifty speakers, dozens of interpreters, and more than three hundred attendees. The International Symposium on Usher Syndrome, #USH2014, is now history.

Rajarshi Ghosh, Wang Likun, Eric S. Wang, B. Gayani K. Perera, Aeid Igbaria, Shuhei Morita, Kris Prado, Maike Thamsen, Deborah Caswell, Hector Macias, Kurt F. Weiberth, Micah J. Gliedt, Marcel V. Alavi, Sanjay B. Hari, Arinjay K. Mitra, Barun Bhhatarai, Stephan C. Schürer, Erik L. Snapp, Douglas B. Gould, Michael S. German, Bradley J. Backes, Dustin J. Maly, Scott A. Oakes, and Feroz R. Papa.

Allosteric inhibition of the IRE1α RNase preserves cell viability and function during endoplasmic reticulum stress.
New research shows that modifying a particular protein, IRE1, can put off cell death.

I was first diagnosed with deafness as an infant and was one of the first 200 children in the U.S. to receive a cochlear implant as part of a clinical trial. How did I get on that short list? My parents stayed on top of the latest research and reached out to numerous professionals. Years later, at the age of 19, I would come to find out that I had a new battle to overcome.

When Bella was born she was bald as a cue ball. It took almost a year before she had any hair. I couldn’t imagine her with hair. That first year we went to a support group for parents (for deafness, not baldness).

Ben Shaberman provides an overview of emerging therapies for Usher syndrome in the article "Saving Vision for People with Usher Syndrome" in the July/August 2014 edition of Hearing Loss Magazine.

Katherine Lafferty is a certified and licensed genetic counselor in Massachusetts. She is currently a genetic counselor at the Laboratory for Molecular Medicine at Partners HealthCare Personalized Medicine in Cambridge, MA where she and her colleagues work at the forefront of clinical genetic testing in the areas of hearing loss and Usher syndrome. Katherine also provides genetic counseling to patients and families in the Department of Otolaryngology at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The mobile app we created just for the International Symposium on Usher Syndrome (#USH2014) is now live. Download it for free on your iPhone, iPad or Android.

I thought I would write one last time about mental illness and Usher syndrome. Then I’m done. It’s getting too depressing, pun intended (see, my sense of humor IS coming back!). One thing I’ve always struggled with is the difference between depression and anxiety. I tried to write about it a while back but I failed miserably. Now that I’ve been through this experience, I think I can both differentiate between the two and describe their impact a little bit better.

My wife Julia and I learned that our daughter Bella had hearing loss when she was an infant. She was identified through a pilot program for newborn hearing screening. We learned sign language. We tried hearing aids. When she was two, she got her first cochlear implant. There were a million otolaryngology visits. She had hours of speech therapy. We attended hearing loss support groups for parents. Our lives revolved around hearing loss.

From July 10-12th the Harvard Medical School’s Joseph B. Martin Conference will open its doors for the 2014 International Symposium on Usher Syndrome and Family Conference. This means that the world’s leading Usher syndrome experts and researchers will meet face-to-face with the families they work tirelessly to treat.

I don’t know who you are but I know if you are reading this blog post, you should attend the symposium. You should attend because you are a member of the Usher syndrome community and this will be the largest gathering of the Usher syndrome community in history.

Gene therapy is still a relatively new development, and so far, the only USH target being delivered via viral vector in clinical trials is MYO7A (USH1B). There are a few different reasons for this, but all boil down to a numbers game.

Preventing or slowing the rate of retinal cell degeneration in the various forms of RP has been a well-covered topic at the past few ARVO meetings, and this year is no exception.

Since I've spent the past few days talking in generalities, I’ll spend today’s blog giving a brief overview on the research specifically dealing with Usher syndrome.

Another day of scientific discovery has come and gone here at ARVO. Continuing with yesterday’s inspirations from Chris Anderson’s book “Makers”, the theme of today was Crowdsourcing.

Hello once again from ARVO! I’m writing to you from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, having just completed the first day of the 2014 Annual Meeting.

About a month ago I wrote that I was dealing with depression and anxiety. I wrote at the time that I would share my experiences in the hope that it inspires others to seek help. Well, we’re one month in and a lot has happened. It seemed like the right time to answer the question a good friend asked me:

My name is Mark Dunning from the state of Massachusetts. As Chairman of the Coalition for Usher Syndrome Research, I am here on behalf of the Usher syndrome community to respectfully request this committee encourage NIH to prioritize research that will eventually expand treatment options for individuals suffering from the severe hearing and vision loss related to Usher syndrome.

I don’t live with Usher syndrome. Not really. My husband does, so I’m a bit like a not-so-silent bystander watching and participating in his journey.

Written Testimony of Mark Dunning of Massachusetts Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations

My son asked me last night what happened to me. He was crying his way to sleep. Again. He says he does so every night because he is worried about me. “You never laugh anymore,” he said, “I don’t understand. I just want things back to the way they were.”

Bella wants to drive. I knew this was coming. I’ve seen it on the horizon for the last eight years. I’ve put off addressing it as long as possible in hopes that some epiphany would strike me on how to handle the situation. It hasn’t happened. Bella turns sixteen in October and Bella wants to drive.

A poem by Mani G. Iyer

This post is about you. It’s a thank you. Your efforts are starting to have an impact on the federal funding levels for Usher syndrome. Now you may be thinking ‘he doesn’t mean me. I didn’t do anything.’ But simply by reading this blog, you have done something to help.

I have two children. If you read this blog frequently, you know about my daughter Bella. She has Usher syndrome and I write about her a lot. I also have a son named Jack who is now 12 years old. He does not have Usher syndrome and so I don’t write about him very often. He tends to be a supporting character in the stories.

"A highly potent synthetic form of THC, the substance in marijuana that produces a high for users, has shown strong vision-preserving effects in rats with a form of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP). ”

We have big news on our efforts to raise the profile of Usher syndrome in Washington, D.C. The following language is included in the omnibus spending package that was sent to the President for his signature today:

I know that at least some of you read the post I authored last August on a newly published report on acupuncture treatment for retinitis pigmentosa. Since that time, there has been quite a bit of continued discussion in the Usher community surrounding the October publication of the study in the journal Clinical and Experimental Optometry, at which time the protocol was made available for other acupuncturists to purchase. Given this ongoing discussion, which has taken place alongside a marketing campaign for the practice where this procedure originated, it seemed like a good idea to post an update.

We Usher Coalition Bloggers are a bit of a mixed bag. Adhering to the age-old advice for authors, we all write what we know. Mark and Kate write as people who live with the diagnosis of Usher syndrome and serve as community advocates. What I know is the science of Usher syndrome, and as such, the vast majority of my posts are heavy on facts and light on personal perspectives.

In Part I, we talked about the need for increased federal funding for Usher syndrome research. Today we’ll talk about the process for getting that funding.

Lately I have been obsessed with the question, ‘what would I miss?’

This year the Usher Syndrome Coalition went to Washington D.C. to seek increased federal funding for Usher syndrome research.

Dr Liz Ellis and Dr Liz Hodges.

This research report, funded by Sense, presents the lives of people with Usher syndrome, showing the impact of the diagnosis on their experiences; education, communication, employment, friends and family, mobility – across all areas of their lives. This report aimed to explore the questions: What do people with Usher think about having Usher syndrome? What is the effect of change on the lives of people with Usher? What do people with Usher remember of their diagnosis and what impact did it have on them?

You know Grampa didn't want to be Grampa. Grampas were old and he wasn't old. He tried out a lot of names before accepting his fate.

Foundation Fighting Blindness' deputy chief research officer, Dr. Brian Mansfield, explains how retinal researchers are working with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), a patient's own skin cells, to gain a better understanding of the RP caused by defects in the gene USH2A. This basic research provides critical information for developing future treatments.

So when I read Jennifer’s take on the current clinical trials for acupuncture I wondered if maybe a focus on the clinical impact, at least in this case, was missing the point.

Sometimes being the resident scientist on this blog is a challenging job. There are promising new developments to write up, but also stories that are more complex, controversial, or just plain worrisome. I’ve put off writing this post for a while because it’s been a tough one to process, but I sincerely believe our readers need to make informed choices about any new treatment options that might come their way, and I hope this write-up will help make that possible.

Bella was twenty months old and had just come out of the surgery for her first cochlear implant. She was groggy and nauseous from the anesthetic. She had a tight wrap on her head. Tubes ran from her arms which were both wrapped to splints to keep her from fussing with her bandages. She was miserable.

Steele-Stallard, Le Quesne Stabej P, Lenassi E, Luxon LM, Claustres M, Roux AF, Webster AR, Bitner-Glindzicz M..

Screening for duplications, deletions and a common intronic mutation detects 35% of second mutations in patients with USH2A monoallelic mutations on Sanger sequencing. An overview of a study to improve the molecular diagnosis in families with USH2A by screening USH2A for duplications.

This is a critical step to get NIH funding for Usher syndrome research. Now is the time to write to your member of Congress.

A Poem by Kate Morell

The next International Symposium on Usher Syndrome will be held in conjunction with our sixth Usher Syndrome Family Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, July 10-12, 2014.

Clinical trials and studies on retinitis pigmentosa usually exclude people with Usher syndrome, at least in the early stages. The reason given is often that people with Usher syndrome not only have RP, but they also have hearing loss.

A Poem by Kate Morrell

Here we are four years later and the blog is still missing two key pieces. We need the perspective of someone living with Usher, not just an observant family member such as me. And though Jennifer and I have the United States pretty well covered (I am a proud New Englander and Jennifer is a West Coaster from Oregon), we still lack a regular international contributor. That will all change now that Kate Morrell is joining us.

ARVO 2013 concluded two weeks ago, but there are still a few more noteworthy stories from ARVO to tell, and this is one of them.

Whew! Day 4 is in the books, and what a day it was. I saw more excellent science presentations than I can count (and a few disappointing ones, too, but that’s a story for another day). I engaged in stimulating discussions about research directions throughout the day and managed to catch sight of a few Seattle landmarks while walking and talking with a colleague before hunkering down in my quaint little hotel room to write this up.

Day 3 of the ARVO meeting was filled with a lot of presentations on retinal cell biology—nitty gritty details about how tiny molecules are transported hither and yon inside the cell, and what goes wrong if the transportation system breaks down. Mother’s milk for me, but probably not for most of our readers. There were, however, a number of poster presentations that might be of general interest here:

The talks I attended today were on the topics of photoreceptor cilia, Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine, and Stem Cell therapies. Afterward, I saw posters on a wide variety of studies related to retinal degeneration.

Greetings from sunny Fort Lauderdale Seattle, destination for this year’s ARVO meeting. I’m here all week, and I’ll be blogging on the very latest vision research going on around the world that has some relevance to Usher syndrome.

The fifth annual Usher Syndrome Family Conference will be held July 13th, 2013 at the Embassy Suites Downtown in Portland Oregon.

Berth Danermark, Claes Moller, Kerstin Moller, Moa Wahlqvist.

The objectives of the study reported here were to describe the physical and psychological health of persons with Usher syndrome Type II (USH2) and to explore any differences in terms of gender.

When I was 15, I was diagnosed with Usher syndrome, the leading cause of deaf-blindness in the United States. Although I’d had hearing aids since kindergarten, and could never see in dark places, it wasn’t until I started to trip over things in broad daylight that my parents became truly concerned.

We are going to Grand Cayman Island for Bella. When she was diagnosed six years ago, my wife and I decided to take her to see the world whenever the opportunity arose. It is insurance, in case the unthinkable happens and her vision fails. We want her memories filled with the world.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed an innovative process to transform skin cells into retinal cells — cells that hold great promise for restoring vision.

What I’m asking is, knowing now that you have Usher syndrome, knowing how it felt to find out, would you have wanted to have known the diagnosis earlier than you did?

Testimony of Susie Trotochaud of Georgia

Testimony of Susie Trotochaud of Georgia before the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.

Just a quick post today to give you an update on another important aspect of Usher syndrome research: Funding.

A couple of new stories/updates that will probably be of interest to our readers.

Danish research by Ph.D. Jesper Dammeyer, in cooperation with educational consultant Bente Ramsing, shows that more than half of all children with Usher Syndrome develop symptoms of psychosocial dissatisfaction before the age of 18.

But we are NOT going to ignore the psychosocial impact of Usher syndrome on families. We are going to address it frequently and we are going to fight it with hope.

USA Today reports on a promising step against a genetic disease that causes deafness and gradual loss of vision -- scientists have partly restored hearing with a single injection to young mice.

Jessica Chaikof is a teenager with Usher syndrome. She wrote this poem for her high school English class and has graciously allowed us to reprint it here.

Jennifer J Lentz, Francine M Jodelka, Anthony J Hinrich, Kate E McCaffrey, Hamilton E Farris, Matthew J Spalitta, Nicolas G Bazan, Dominik M Duelli, Frank Rigo & Michelle L Hastings

New research shows that hearing and vestibular function can be rescued in a mouse model of Usher 1c using an antisense oligonucleotide.

A new study questions whether gene therapy to treat Leber congenital amaurosis type 2 (LCA2) actually saves the rods and cones, the photoreceptor cells that provide vision.

According to scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, "Doctors may one day treat some forms of blindness by altering the genetic program of the light-sensing cells of the eye."

Two deaf twins in Belgium recently sought, and were granted, the right to be euthanized after learning that they would soon also go blind.

I am an animal lover. I make cozy little shoebox homes for the injured birds that regularly smack into our picture windows. I carry spiders, beetles, moths and most other critters who find their way into my house outside, rather than smashing them. A happy, well-fed Golden Retriever is resting her head on my lap as I type this.

Since my return to blogging with an analysis of recent peer-reviewed literature on Usher research, another paper that will probably have relevance to a lot of our blog readers has come to my attention. In contrast to those first two papers on new Usher genes, however, this one isn’t exactly a cause for celebration.

Here is something I wrote several years ago about a vacation with the family:
Taught the kids to fish yesterday. I didn't think they'd enjoy it, but they really did. I also thought that I would. I didn't. They spent five hours fishing. I spent five hours undoing tangles and pulling lures out of trees.

When I think of candy canes, I think of two things. One, they are kind of gross. The plastic wrapping seems to be part of the candy, nearly inseparable and almost as sticky. I remember growing up that I ate as much of the wrapper as I did of the candy. To this day, when I eat a candy cane, my palate expects the taste of plastic and of my fingertips as I scrape said plastic from my tongue. And a candy cane is the only sweet that can be sucked in to weapon form. Ten minutes in your mouth produces a shiv. I can still taste the blood in my mouth from my impaled gums.

"Ray of hope for human Usher syndrome patients": Uwe Wolfrum and his colleagues at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz are increasing our understanding of Usher syndrome.

Oh, the hormonal tempest that is a teenager. My daughter can argue about the color of the grass. She can break down crying over who was handed the dinner rolls first because, clearly, it was a statement on who among the children was more loved. I’m afraid to make eye contact with my daughter, so it’s hard to imagine the stress of discussing something difficult, like a new diagnosis of Usher syndrome with her.

What if my daughter Bella could have had normal hearing simply by receiving an injection shortly after birth?

Three patients have been treated so far with no serious adverse events after six months. They have been allowed to proceed to delivering a larger dose to the next group of patients.

During that time, I have gotten an education on teenagers, an experience cast by the prism of Usher syndrome.

In the past couple of months, two papers have come across my desk that I immediately filed under “blog fodder”—reports of two new human genes that are linked to cases of Usher syndrome. This is exciting news indeed, not only because it tells us more about Usher, but because the techniques used to identify disease genes are becoming more powerful and effective all the time.

A team of researchers from multiple institutions reported a novel type of gene (CIB2) associated with Usher syndrome in the November 2012 issue of Nature Genetics.

It is not easy for a professional to deliver bad news to a family. Doctors and genetic counselors are people, too. They have parents. They have children. They understand the impact of a diagnosis like hearing loss or Usher syndrome. They don’t want to hurt or upset the family. It is human nature to try to soften the blow.

I was reading the last post from our guest blogger, Elise, and I was struck by one sentence in particular. Referring to about her son’s diagnosis, she wrote “Two weeks later, he failed the hearing test again.” To explain why that particular phrase stuck with me, let me tell you three quick stories involving some other well-meaning, kind hearted people:

Editor's Note: From time to time we invite guest bloggers to share their Usher syndrome stories and insights. Elise Faucheaux is 28 years old and currently lives in Youngsville, Louisiana with her husband Blair and their son 18 month old son Hunter. She writes regularly about her experiences raising a child with Usher on her blog, Angelic Ears and Eyes.

BioDiem has strengthened the preclinical case for its BDM-E eye disease drug with further positive results from formal studies that will help progress out-licensing opportunities for the drug. BDM-E has received Orphan Drug designation from the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of the inherited degenerative eye disorder, retinitis pigmentosa.

ReNeuron, a stem cell development company in the United Kingdom, is planning to file for regulatory approval in late 2013 to launch a clinical trial of a stem cell treatment for people with retinitis pigmentosa

The above scenario is an amalgam of discussions I have had with adults with Usher. They have asked me to write about it, to let people know it exists, to let others know they are not alone.

Researchers conducting a genetic study of Old Order Amish and Mennonite populations have identified five new genes in which defects cause congenital diseases, including a previously unidentified type of Usher syndrome, type 3B.

When someone is diagnosed with Usher syndrome, there are a lot of services offered to address the physical symptoms associated with the disorder. There are hearing aids and cochlear implants, speech therapy and ASL, FMs and loops and closed captioning for hearing loss. There is mobility training and tactile sign and braille and canes and guide dogs for vision loss. There’s physical therapy, and occupational therapy, and even hippotherapy for balance issues.

The bulk of the presentations I took in today were reports from clinicians treating Usher patients. I don’t get to interact with clinicians on a regular basis, so it is hugely instructive for me to get their perspective on diagnosis and monitoring of the progressive retinal degeneration seen in Usher syndrome

Here at ARVO the last events of the day are the award lectures. Each year, several of the most impacting clinicians and scientists in the international Ophthalmology and vision research community are chosen to receive various awards and deliver a plenary lecture.

Today was an 11-hour maelstrom* of really good science. Of all the great research stories I heard, there are several that will likely be of interest to our readers:

The ARVO meeting started on Sunday, but I’ve actually been here since last Thursday to attend a pre-ARVO meeting on the topic of Retina Ciliopathies. That was an intensely focused two days, indeed. I have talked about the connecting cilium of the photoreceptor quite a bit on the blog, most recently in reviewing what we know about the molecular causes of USH1.

At last year’s ARVO conference there was a presentation reporting successful animal testing for a gene therapy product called “UshStat”*. While this work has not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed publication the ARVO abstract can be found here. The poster presentation at the meeting described the use of a non-pathogenic viral vector to deliver a normal copy of the gene affected in Usher Type 1B (MYO7A) into the retina.

In preparing to write this blog post, I planned to leap right into the meat of the study, because I know that’s what you all are most keen to hear about. However, once I got into it I realized that I’d be doing our readers a disservice by cutting to the juicy center without context.

Registration is now open for the 4th annual Usher Syndrome Family Conference in St. Louis, Missouri on July 7th, 2012

In this last post in the series, I’ll tell you what we ultimately did to help Bella resolve her problems at school.

There have been studies done on the mental health of adults with Usher, but few on children with Usher. This study looked at 26 children in Denmark and investigated the frequency of mental and behavioral issues among the group. Published 27 March 2012.

Some of you have already noticed the little Facebook widget on the right-hand side of this page, but for those of you who haven’t, please join us in the colossal time vacuum that is social media!

Christine Petit and Karen Steel won the Brain Prize of 1 million euros in part for their research on Usher syndrome.

My daughter Bella is thirteen years old. She is in the first year of middle school and has had a very hard time. With her permission, I have been writing about her experiences and what we did as a family to address the issues.

I'm 43 years old and smack dab in the middle of middle age. I can tell you from experience that middle age stinks. I don't see as well as I once did. I had the eyes of a hawk when I was younger. Now I need glasses. When I take Bella to one of her frequent ophthalmologist appointments, I have to squint just to read the same lines on the eye chart that she does.

"Gene therapy 'gave me sight back'" An article from the BBC about the impact of gene therapy on patients with LCA. Similar gene therapies are planned for people with Usher.

That someone will not be my daughter Bella. Well, at least I know that someone won't be Bella before she is an adult. After that, it's her call. But while it's my decision, she won't be participating in a phase I clinical trial. I'll do a lot to support Usher syndrome research, but that is just a step too far for me.

The current standard of pediatric care mandating that all newborns undergo hearing screenings has been applied successfully throughout the industrialized world. Early identification of hearing impairments gives valuable lead-time to parents and health care providers during which they can plan medical and educational interventions to improve the child's development, acquisition of language skills, and general quality of life.

My daughter, Bella, is thirteen years old and a good student. She has always loved going to school and was one of those kids that teachers described as a joy to have in class. She is even tempered and rarely gets upset.

"Researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the National Eye Institute have now found that an alteration of an Usher gene that causes only deafness can preserve sight and balance when in combination with another alteration of the same gene that causes Usher syndrome, or deaf-blindness. This research has important implications for genetic counselors and may open new prospects for future therapies for vision loss."

I haven't been very active in writing for this blog recently. There are a lot of reasons involved, but the biggest has been my daughter, Bella. She's been having a tough time. I have spent a good amount of time trying to help her, which is part of the reason I have not written lately.

A Poem by Mani G. Iyer

Jennifer and Mark will be back after the holidays. Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India and has lived in the United States since 1985. He is deaf-blind due to Usher Syndrome. He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.

This study, conducted in mice modelling the human disease retinitis pigmentosa, showed that the drug norgestrel could "rescue" light-detecting retinal cells. The synthetic progestin hormone, an active component of the contraceptive "mini-Pill," allowed mice which should have gone blind to retain their sight. A new study is now planned for next year to see if humans experience the same protective effects.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

It's hard to believe that I am afraid of a white folding piece of aluminum, especially when there's a little rubber ball on the end of it or maybe a tennis ball. Yet the cane scares me and it should scare you, but not for the reasons you think.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Oxford BioMedica's Investigational New Drug (IND) application for the Phase I/IIa clinical development of UshStat to treat Usher syndrome type 1B. Oxford Biometica will enroll 18 patients with Usher type 1b at the Casey Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon. The study will be lead by Dr. Richard Weleber.

My apologies for not posting recently, but I have excuses (yes, not a single excuse, but multiple excuses):

"I like having Usher syndrome because I have gotten to see a lot of things." - Bella Dunning

In this post, I'll introduce the molecules known to be affected in Usher patients, and begin to describe what is known about their function.

I have a friend with Usher syndrome. She worries about it. I know she does. I can see it in the way her eyes brighten when we talk about potential treatments. I can feel it in her enthusiasm for knowledge about the disease. Yet she does not live like someone who worries about Usher syndrome. She stubbornly refuses to let the future decide her present. She lives for today.

Usher syndrome is a genetically recessive condition characterized by hearing impairment--usually from birth--due to defects in the sensory neurons of the inner ear, and vision loss due to retinal degeneration, which begins to occur in childhood or adolescence and progresses through several decades.

What if Usher syndrome no longer existed? What if it went the way of Polio and Small Pox? But as with the Polio and Small Pox vaccines, this treatment would not change the fate of those of us who already have Usher syndrome. In short, we'd be the last, a people destined to be a footnote in the history books. How would you feel if no one was ever born with Usher syndrome again?

New treatment for nonsense mutations may soon be ready for use in Usher syndrome patients. A molecule known as PTC124 appears to cause the stop signal in a mutated USH1C to be ignored, allowing the protein to be formed normally in cell cultures.

Here's my somewhat belated follow up to Mark's last post regarding the unanswered questions about Vitamin A as a potential treatment for Usher syndrome.

The Coalition for Usher Syndrome Research in conjunction with the Usher Syndrome Foundation and the Decibels Foundation will be holding a third annual Usher Syndrome Family Conference this July 8th in at the Host Hotel in Sturbridge Massachusetts.

Registration is now open for the third annual Usher Syndrome Family Conference in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

The artificial retina is the first device of its kind to move from the laboratory to the clinic, after a trial of 30 patients has shown that it can safely restore some vision to people who have lost their sight to a genetic disease.

You should take vitamin A. You should give it to your children. You should take it, of course, in a dose that is safe and prescribed by a physician, but you should take it. My daughter takes vitamin A and her vision has not changed perceptibly in the last four years.

The last day of the ARVO meeting was short and sweet, and the very last presentation I saw before heading to the Ft. Lauderdale airport was the one I'm choosing to recap here. The talk was by Hari Jayaram of the University College London's Institute of Ophthalmology, who described a collaborative research project in which cultured human retinal cells were implanted into a rat model of retinal degeneration. At first glance it might sound like the premise of a Mad Scientist thriller, but it was actually quite a well-designed and relevant study. Here's an overview of the experimental rationale, set-up, and outcome...

Today at the ARVO meeting I saw a nice poster presentation that may add a bit more data to that story. The authors, from the same research group at U Mass that produced the original patient study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, now report the results of dosing mice with a severe form of RP with Valproic Acid.

Today's cool Usher science story comes from Kate McCaffrey and colleagues at Rosalind Franklin University, who are making some interesting discoveries about a new potential therapy for Usher type 1C.

Today was a 12-hour juggernaut of talks, poster presentations (mine included) and really good scientific and social conversations. While many of these situations would make great blog fodder, one series of talks really had the wow factor. This session was entitled "Optogenetics, Visual Function and Restoration".

I'm here in sunny Ft. Lauderdale attending the Association for Vision Research and Ophthalmology meeting-that's right the teeming nerd hordes are at it again.

Neurotech announced in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science that their NT-501 implant slowed the loss of photoreceptors in three patients, including one with Usher syndrome type 2.

My daughter has Usher syndrome because of me. She has my genes. I gave them to her. I gave her the mutation that causes a certain protein to be produced incorrectly. I am the reason she was born deaf. I am the reason she can't walk a balance beam. I am the reason her vision is getting worse.

Researchers in Japan have discovered a way to coax mouse embryonic stem cells into forming an eyelike structure.

Jennifer Phillips, Ph.D., reviewed and put together a 'FAQ' on a small observational study of the effects of Valproic Acid, which was published in the summer of 2010 online in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

In the summer of 2010, a small observational study of the effects of Valproic Acid was published online in the British Journal of Ophthalmology1. This study reported on seven patients with autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (ADRP) who were given daily doses of a drug called (in its generic form) Valproic Acid, or VPA.

Of course, when you do speak to your child about Usher syndrome, you don't want to freak them out. I can give you some guidelines on what to say, but I can't tell you the specific words or tone to take.

When should you tell your child that he/she has Usher syndrome and what, exactly, should you tell him or her?

A study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science this month reports on a study that could lay the groundwork for a clinical trial at some point in the future.

The registry idea is clearly a hit. We've gotten more comments on this posting than any other. Rather than respond to each individual comment (and since I clearly forgot some important details), I figured I would do another post with answers to the most common questions.

There are a number of treatments nearing clinical trial that could potentially help people with Usher syndrome. There are an even greater number of areas of interest that researchers think might be the source of future treatments but which are as of yet fairly unexplored.

Last night was the first of those two times that we'll skate on our home rink. My daughter Bella and my son Jack spent a couple of hours on the ice. I mean that quite literally for Bella. Jack plays hockey. Bella plays Zamboni.

I haven't been completely out of touch with the world of science, however, as I've been working long hours preparing a manuscript for submission. It's a labor of love, to be sure, combing through pages and pages of carefully laid out results, multi-panel figures, looking for opportunities to make tiny improvements and (hopefully) spotting glaring omissions before the reviewers find them.

I spend a lot of time in this blog writing about the desperation of Usher syndrome. I write about the fear that we all feel, the fear of what the disease might one day take from us. But it's the holiday season s and for today, I'd like to talk about the flip side of that fear. I want to talk about the gift of Usher syndrome.

Time passes in the research lab marked by scientific conferences, submission deadlines, and project completion. There's not much awareness of the academic calendar for those of us who don't teach regularly, but from time to time we host a new graduate student for a 12-week stint that corresponds to our academic quarter system, which tends to wake us up to the fact that we actually work at a University

QLT091001 is an orally administered synthetic retinoid replacement for 11-cis-retinal, which is a key biochemical component of the visual retinoid cycle, and is under investigation for the treatment of LCA and RP.

Molly has been a guest blogger on this site in the past and wishes to share more of her experiences. Her past posts have been among the best received on the site.

For only the second time, the Food and Drug Administration approved a company’s request to test an embryonic stem cell-based therapy on human patients. Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), based in Marlborough, Mass., will begin testing its retinal cell treatment this year in a dozen patients with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, an inherited degenerative eye disease that leads to blindness in children.

I see all of these things, I expect them, I internalize them, but somehow I don't believe them. My little girl can't really be losing her eyesight.

Well, it's November and we are still summarizing the International Symposium on Usher Syndrome and Related Diseases that took place in May. That should be heartening for our readers. Obviously a lot happened at the conference.

Some unexpected effects of lead exposure that may one day help prevent and reverse blindness have been uncovered.

Thanks to Jennifer for carrying the blog while I procrastinated. I do have a partial excuse. I was in Denmark for a few days at the Usher Syndrome Working Group put on by Sense in conjunction with the Acquired Deaf Blindness Network conference.

Molly Watt won the National Young Deafblind Person of the Year award from Sense in the UK because of her exceptional contributions to raising awareness of deafblindness. Molly has Usher syndrome.

To briefly summarize, there is strong experimental evidence to suggest that at least some of the time these Usher proteins physically link together to form molecular complexes that carry out some cellular functions. There are a lot of different Usher proteins involved, so understanding just the activities of those proteins has been quite challenging.

The Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) has announced the latest issue of CONNECT!, an online publication about HKNC’s many activities.

We're slowly progressing through the wealth of interesting talks at the Conference last May, and even though I didn't actually attend the Valencia meeting, I have enough familiarity with the dense molecular topics therein to give an adequate summary and their relevance to the Usher community.

'Why the heck didn't any doctor ever explain their opposition to vitamin A supplementation to me as well as Jennifer did?' I've talked to a lot of physicians that don't prescribe vitamin A, some who are strident opponents of prescribing it, and none of them explained their reasoning as clearly as Jennifer.

A new stem cell therapy is now available to eye patients using subretinal placement of adult stem cells. Initial patients included an individual with Stargardts Disease and a patient with Age Related Macular Degeneration.

I need a vacation.

Over the last 20 years or so, several studies have been conducted examining the effects of various dietary supplements on patients with progressive Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) from a variety of causes. As a minor but important side note, these studies excluded patients with clinically diagnosed Usher type I, but did include some patients with diagnoses of Usher type 2.

First, a quick update on the Usher Syndrome Family Conference held last weekend in Seattle Washington. In a word: Awesome. Some of the leading experts in the world spoke and they all did so at a level that was possible to follow even for the recently diagnosed. They were great. It was also terrific to see so many Usher adults in attendance.

So, if we agree that change needs to happen, and that we have the power to influence this happening, let's start talking about HOW it should happen.

Julia and I recently attended our first deafblind party and I thought I'd tell you about it.

EU-funded scientists have succeeded in awakening dormant vision cones, an achievement that may lead to saving millions of people from going blind.

Dr Hanno Bolz says that his team's research challenges the traditional view that USH was inherited as a single gene disorder, and shows that it may result from at least two different genetic mutations.

This is a planned public debate between Mark Dunning and Jennifer Phillips, the two primary contributors to this blog. The ideas expressed in the posts during this debate will be purposely provocative and unfinished to invite a response from the other party. We hope you find the discussion valuable.

This is a planned public debate between Mark Dunning and Jennifer Phillips, the two primary contributors to this blog. The ideas expressed in the posts during this debate will be purposely provocative and unfinished to invite a response from the other party. We hope you find the discussion valuable.

The family conference in Seattle on July 10th is a great opportunity for families not only to connect with other families, but also to meet and talk with some of the leading researchers and Usher syndrome professionals.

The conference was enlightening and, at times, exciting. I'll give you as brief a summary of the two and half days as I can, highlighting what you really need to know.

This is a planned public debate between Mark Dunning and Jennifer Phillips, the two primary contributors to this blog. The ideas expressed in the posts during this debate will be purposely provocative and unfinished to invite a response from the other party. We hope you find the discussion valuable.

UC Irvine researchers have created a retina from human embryonic stem cells, the first time they've been used to create a three-dimensional tissue structure. The eight-layer, early stage retina could be the first step towards the development of transplant-ready retinas to treat eye disorders, such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration.

Mark began this debate by airing some grievances against the scientific and medical communities. The central charges as I read them (from my anti-hope enclave) are as follows: