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Biotech Medicine Science

Citizen Scientists Develop Eye Drops That Provide Night Vision 81

rtoz writes: A group of scientists in California have successfully created eye drops that temporarily enable night vision. They use mixture of insulin and a chemical known as Chlorin e6 (Ce6) to enable the user to view objects clearly in darkness up to 50 meters away. Ce6 is found in some deep-sea fish and often used to treat night blindness. The solution starts to work within an hour of being applied to the user's eyes, and lasts for several hours afterward. The test subject's eyesight returned to normal the next day. The organization Science for the Masses has released a paper detailing the experiment on their website.
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Citizen Scientists Develop Eye Drops That Provide Night Vision

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  • Maybe not so smart. Sounds kinda blurry, like a Gen I night vision scope. I think I'd wait a little bit to make sure he doesn't grow things in inappropriate places or start photosynthesizing. But they do have the benefit of previous research as some form of chemotherapy so I guess it won't kill you right off.

  • Some nutter uses a syringe (!) to inject your eyeballs with fish guts in his garage.

    Awesome if it's got practical uses though.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's a Gilson pipette with a plastic tip, not a syringe.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      You get to a planet hotter than Hell.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 28, 2015 @05:34PM (#49362599)

      How do I get eyes like that

      First, you gotta kill a lot of people...

    • The important bits (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @05:45PM (#49362635) Homepage Journal

      Some nutter uses a syringe (!) to inject your eyeballs with fish guts in his garage.

      Firstly, it's a glorified eye-dropper not a syringe.

      Secondly, it's an important biomedical advancement made by citizen scientists. (The important part of that sentence is "by citizen scientists".)

      Thirdly, there's an organization [scienceforthemasses.org] which is a nexus for citizen science.

      The important bit of this announcement, and the one that makes it interesting to me, is that people are making biomedical experiments on their own, bypassing regulatory agencies and big industry alike.

      This is exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a stagnant market dominated by large monolithic entities. It's usually a small upstart company that's more agile than the big conglomerate, but it works the same in research as it does everywhere else.

      For a games-theory argument, consider that the regulatory agencies are free to require any safety requirements at no cost to themselves, but if something goes wrong they are held responsible. As a result we have a system where it costs 2.5 billion dollars [google.com] to bring a drug to market, so that it's economically infeasable to implement existing cures for rare diseases. It's also impossible for individuals to manage their own risk with informed consent.

      For a games-theory argument, consider that health insurance companies see care and maintenance as a cost to be minimized and rates as profit to be maximized. As a result, insurance companies are unwilling to pay for newly minted procedures and therapies because "it's experimental".

      (As a concrete example, it tool a loooong time for the insurance companies to consider MRI scans non-experimental.)

      So it's not really *surprising* that people are taking things into their own hands and doing their own research, but it's an important development.

      Oh, and cue up the kneejerk response from established players about risk, gold-standard regulatory bureaucratic fandom, and how no one without a PhD can possibly do real research.

      • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @06:10PM (#49362723) Homepage

        Secondly, it's an important biomedical advancement made by citizen scientists.

        Is it important, and is it even an advancement?

        They didn't come up with the idea and the effect was already known.

        Their idea was inspired by a patent filed in 2012, claiming that if you mix insulin, Ce6 and saline to someone’s eye, their retina absorbs much more light and they can see much better in the dark. The patent also mentioned that instead of insulin, you can use a substance called dimethlysulfoxide (DMSO). The Science for Masses guys thought “Why not use both?”.

        So their sole contribution appears to be the idea of using both insulin and DMSO (for no readily apparent reason and probably to no actual benefit).

        Thirdly, there's an organization [scienceforthemasses.org] which is a nexus for citizen science.

        Said "organization" appears to be two guys with unknown qualifications and "our fair share of body mod tools for when the mood strikes us." Their "paper" looks more like a blog post to me, and their "tests" were subjective at very best (something they do at least admit).

        I'd half expect their next "paper" to be a study on the effects of downing a glass of diet coke after eating a packet of mentos.

        The test subject's eyesight returned to normal the next day.

        Yeah, so far.

        • DMSO is one of the most effective solvents known and makes the solution pass readily into the eyeball.

          • by gnunick ( 701343 )

            DMSO is one of the most effective solvents known and makes the solution pass readily into the eyeball.

            Yes, and absolutely everything else that it has been able to dissolve before it gets dropped into your eye also gets transported directly into your body.

            As you rightly point out, it is a very effective solvent. Inside or outside of the lab it's dangerous stuff. I've always marveled at the "health nuts" who think DMSO must be good for you because it makes you smell like garlic.

          • by mysidia ( 191772 )

            DMSO is one of the most effective solvents known and makes the solution pass readily into the eyeball.

            Wait a minute... DMSO itself is a substance thought to be explicitly harmful to the eye.

            But there's a bigger problem.... it's too good a solvent... as in, exposure to Dmso can allow toxic materials to be absorbed through the skin that the skin would ordinarily protect against. Very dangerous stuff.

            • by pepty ( 1976012 )

              But if this was describing actual drug instead of a blogpost about a hobby, QC/QA protocols would be followed to ensure that only the intended active pharmaceutical ingredients and excipients are in the dose, and that the method of administration doesn't introduce any contaminants.

              Anyway, if you want to hear something even scarier: you can treat Alzheimers in mice by repeatedly permeabilizing the blood brain barrier for a few hours. How's that for potential of letting nasty stuff into the wrong place?

              http [sciguru.org]

              • by mysidia ( 191772 )

                to ensure that only the intended active pharmaceutical ingredients and excipients are in the dose

                It goes beyond purity of the dose. If a person ingested some medicine containing DMSO as a delivery vector.... even if there were no contaminants in the dose, when the DMSO gets into the blood stream, it can dissolve things that are on the surface of the skin, which would not otherwise be a danger.

      • by nbauman ( 624611 )

        For a games-theory argument, consider that the regulatory agencies are free to require any safety requirements at no cost to themselves, but if something goes wrong they are held responsible. As a result we have a system where it costs 2.5 billion dollars [google.com] to bring a drug to market, so that it's economically infeasable to implement existing cures for rare diseases. It's also impossible for individuals to manage their own risk with informed consent.

        (1) If you read a little further down that Google search, you find out that maybe it doesn't cost $2.5 billion after all.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11... [nytimes.com]
        $2.6 Billion to Develop a Drug? New Estimate Makes Questionable Assumptions
        Aaron E. Carroll
        NOV. 18, 2014
        The bottom line is that the report contains a lot of assumptions that tend to favor the pharmaceutical industry. While the Tufts Center reports that $2.6 billion is the cost to develop “a new prescription medicine that gains marketing approval,

      • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

        Secondly, it's an important biomedical advancement made by citizen scientists. (The important part of that sentence is "by citizen scientists".)

        I was a little confused when I saw that wording in the story, and now that I'm hearing this wording is the important part, I'm getting a little concerned. Are we not all citizens? Have we been divided into citizens and ruling class, now?

        I'm all for popularizing science among all citizens, but I'd rather we word that as "science for the masses" or something.

        • I was a little confused when I saw that wording in the story, and now that I'm hearing this wording is the important part, I'm getting a little concerned. Are we not all citizens? Have we been divided into citizens and ruling class, now?

          We've always been divided into serfs and lords. Human spirit simply doesn't have the strength to resist using power to get more. The lords, blinded by the seeming invincibility of their position and the system which grants it then end up draining that very system to the poi

        • by dwye ( 1127395 )

          Are we not all citizens?

          Yes, but some people are licensed professionals who would be sued if they recommended a treatment like this and it did not work out too well. These are not considered merely citizens.

          but I'd rather we word that as "science for the masses" or something.

          Thank you, but I would rather be a self-responsible citizen than one of millions of ant-like creatures to be ruled by a self-declared elite. Stalin ran the USSR for "the masses", no matter how many of them had to die for their own good.

          • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

            Thank you, but I would rather be a self-responsible citizen than one of millions of ant-like creatures to be ruled by a self-declared elite

            Isn't that what I was saying?

      • Secondly, it's an important biomedical advancement made by citizen scientists. (The important part of that sentence is "by citizen scientists".)

        Why is that important? Are most scientists non-citizens? Or does that just mean they're citizens of the country where the work is done as opposed to citizens of some other country?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The important bit of this announcement, and the one that makes it interesting to me, is that people are making biomedical experiments on their own, bypassing regulatory agencies and big industry alike.

        From TFA:
        "To do so, team biochem researcher Gabriel Licina became a guinea pig."

        Having a spouse that works in this industry, the research is the easy part, getting it through the regulatory agencies is the hard (and expensive) part. If you use your own team members as test subjects you can easily bypass regulatory agencies in the early parts of the research phase.

        - Is this an interesting development? Yes - science is science.
        - Does this scale / can you do this every time? Not likely.
        - Can you com

        • by pepty ( 1976012 )

          If you use your own team members as test subjects you can easily bypass regulatory agencies in the early parts of the research phase.

          So long as you don't actually tell anyone outside of your research group about those experiments, and then lie to your insurance companies about what happened if there is an accident.

          the research is the easy part, getting it through the regulatory agencies is the hard (and expensive) part.

          For most of the $, it's hard to separate the two. Yes the FDA requires successful phase III and sometimes phase IV trials, Aren't those research? The actual paperwork for the FDA submission costs millions to prepare, but that's chump change compared to the rest of the costs.

      • by pepty ( 1976012 )
        OK, consider me cued up.

        This is exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a stagnant market dominated by large monolithic entities. It's usually a small upstart company that's more agile than the big conglomerate, but it works the same in research as it does everywhere else.

        For a games-theory argument, consider that the regulatory agencies are free to require any safety requirements at no cost to themselves, but if something goes wrong they are held responsible. As a result we have a system where it costs 2.5 billion dollars [google.com] to bring a drug to market, so that it's economically infeasable to implement existing cures for rare diseases. It's also impossible for individuals to manage their own risk with informed consent.

        A few things to consider:

        1. Over a third of new drug approvals are for rare and orphan diseases (37% in the US last year). It is definitely economically feasible to create treatments for rare diseases.

        2. This paper doesn't describe anything that wasn't described in a patent from 2012. (Methods to enhance night vision and treatment of night blindness US 20120157377 A1)

        3. They aren't doing research to advance a treatment for a medical condition

    • The test subject just has "sclera lenses" in his eyes, this procedure doesn't turn his eyes black.

      This is me with protective lenses in my eyes to block out some of the light. As the solution starts to work, the light intensity would increase over the course of 2 hours. I ended up putting sunglasses on soon as well.

      I'm a little skeptical that a sclera lens will even be effective for protecting your eyes in a situation like this.

      I'm also a little surprised that their research doesn't mention anything about pupil dilation, whether it is normal or otherwise.

      • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @06:52PM (#49362873) Homepage Journal

        What I don't understand is why they did this to both of his eyes.

        You'd think it would be far more prudent to dose one eye, and put a patch over the untreated eye to prevent interference.

        • by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Sunday March 29, 2015 @07:08AM (#49364389)

          Not a patch, but having one eye as "control" wouldn't be a bad idea. If the subject had one "normal" eye and one "doped" one, you could make some kind of meaningful-ish comparison. The eye-patch would be a bad idea as the patched eye would be constantly adjusting to the darkness and would end up being "super-powered" itself by the time of the test.

          Actually, if the buy was wearing darkened contact lenses and sunglasses after treatment and before the test, and the "control" subjects weren't, the whole thing's basically just a waste of time, as we don't know how much of his improved accuracy over the others was down to the increased light-sensitivity as a result of blocking out light for several hours.

  • by Guerilla Antix ( 859639 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @05:48PM (#49362641)

    Gotta kill a few people. Then you got to get sent to a slam, where they tell you you'll never see daylight again. You dig up a doctor, and you pay him 20 menthol Kools to do a surgical shine job on your eyeballs.

    Or here, use these eye drops.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Saturday March 28, 2015 @06:14PM (#49362737) Homepage

    view objects clearly in darkness up to 50 meters away.

    Define "darkness." It obviously wasn't completely dark. Was it dark like a moonless night dark, or dark like an interior hallway dark?

    Secondly, how do you define night vision in metres?

    • by gewalker ( 57809 )

      Easy, they were used to D&D where infravision is defined in terms of distance, which is of course bad physics, even for D&D.

      The article mentions they were able to detect humans up to 50 meters distant.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I will take a night vision scope over this, any day.

  • April 1st this year 3 days early?

  • "I can still see!" (Score:1, Insightful)

    by FrnkMit ( 302934 )

    Did no one learn from Ray Milland in _The Man with the X-Ray Eyes_?

  • May include one or more of the following:
    -- sleeping 20 hours or more daily
    -- hydrophobia
    -- sudden violent disposition to pieces of string
    -- self-licking of genitals
    -- tuna addiction
    -- sudden urges to defecate in your neighbors kid's sandox
    -- sexual activity lasting 60 seconds or less
    -- trying to gain the affections of friends and loved ones by bringing them dead rodents

  • One thing that marks the onset of presbyopia is that your vision increasingly sucks as low/dim light conditions. If this stuff is without side effects, then this would make a neat (at least temporary) cure for early presbyopia, not requiring bright(est) lights for reading, soldering, etc.
  • Had to have seen that coming.

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