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Protein-Based Retinal Implants

LambdaVision provides a unique approach in the development of a retinal implant for those afflicted with retinal degenerative diseases. The protein-based retinal implant harnesses the photochemical properties of bacteriorhodopsin, a light-activated proton pump, to create an ion gradient that is used to stimulate the bipolar and ganglion cells within the damaged retina. Competing electrode-based implants have achieved some success, however, the designs lead to low resolution and require external hardware, goggles, or glasses to magnify or manipulate the incoming signal. Furthermore, the implants have a rigidness and structural complexity that has often elicited surgical and immunological complications. The protein-based retinal implant is simple in design, flexible, and has high resolution due to the small size of bacteriorhodopsin that is oriented onto the ion-permeable surface.

The retinal implant will be placed subretinally, in place of the nonfunctional photoreceptor cells of the eyes of patients with retinal degenerative diseases. The implant is comprised of multiple layers of oriented bacteriorhodopsin that are between two ion permeable membranes. The surgery that is necessary for the placement of the implant will be analogous to detached retina procedures. Once the thin film is in place, incident light is absorbed by the prosthesis and a unidirectional ion gradient is initiated and directed towards the bipolar and ganglion cells of the retina. Vision will then be generated through the indirect manipulation or competition of ions amongst native signal carriers. Preclinical trials are underway to test for the efficacy of the implant and the neural response associated with the photochemically induced ion gradient of the retinal implant.

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