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Archive - Feb 4, 2017

Red “Color Channel” May Aid in Screening for Diabetic Eye Disease

In photographs of the eye used to screen for diabetes-related eye disease, separating out the red color channel can help show some abnormalities -- especially in racial/ethnic minority patients, suggests a study in the February 2017 issue of Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry. The open-access article is titled “Comparison of Cysts in Red and Green Images for Diabetic Macular Edema.” Inspecting the channel for red (long-wavelength) reflected light can improve the ability to detect diabetic macular edema, a complication of diabetes that can lead to blindness. Using the red color channel of these images may have a special advantage in detecting macular edema in racial/ethnic minority patients -- in whom natural pigments in back of the eye tend to be darker. The lead author of the new study was Mastour A. Alhamami, Ph.D., of Indiana University School of Optometry, Bloomington. The researchers analyzed standard color fundus photographs obtained from 2,047 adult patients with diabetes. Ninety percent of patients identified themselves as racial/ethnic minorities (other than non-Hispanic white). The study was performed in a medically under-served group, most without access to routine eye care. For patients with diabetes, regular dilated eye examinations (at least once yearly) are recommended to detect early signs of diabetic eye disease. One major finding in diabetic eye disease is macular edema (a fluid accumulation in the retina) resulting from leaky blood vessels in the back of the eye. This condition is a leading cause of vision loss among working-age adults with diabetic eye disease. The retinal photographs showed clinically significant macular edema in 148 patients.

Study Investigates Changes in Microbiota During Space Flight Using Twin Astronauts, One in Space and One on Earth

Northwestern University researchers studying the gut bacteria of Scott (photo) and Mark Kelly, NASA astronauts and identical twin brothers, as part of a unique human study have found that changes to certain gut "bugs" occur in space. The Northwestern team is one of ten NASA-funded research groups studying the Kelly twins to learn how living in space for a long period of time -- such as a mission to Mars -- affects the human body. While Scott spent nearly a year in space, his brother, Mark, remained on Earth, as a ground-based control. "We are seeing changes associated with spaceflight, and they go away upon return to Earth," said Dr. Fred W. Turek, the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Biology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwester. He is a co-leader of the study. "It's early in our analysis, so we don't know yet what these changes mean," said Dr. Martha H. Vitaterna, study co-leader and Research Associate Professor of Neurobiology at Northwestern. "We don't know what it is about spaceflight that is driving the changes in gut microbes." The research team includes collaborators from Rush University Medical School and the University of Illinois at Chicago. "We will be working closely with the other Twins Study teams to piece together a more complete picture of the effects of long space missions," Dr. Turek said. "What we learn will help us safeguard the health of astronauts, and it will also help us improve human health on Earth." Dr. Turek reported his team's preliminary research results at NASA's Human Research Program's annual Investigators' Workshop, held last week in Galveston, Texas. This was the first meeting where the researchers with the 10 Twins Study teams, which are looking at different aspects of the twins' physiology, could share their data with each other.