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Algae can Treat Child Blindness

Research studies from the Sheba Medical Center @ Israel have revealed that a powdery substance produced by orange algae ( Dunaliella.bardawil) can treat an inherited disease – Retinitis pigmentosa, that causes blindness in children. This disease, until now, was thought to be incurable. Earlier, this was treated rather the intensity somehow slowed down using vitamin A and E.

The study was conducted by the head of the retina research lab at Sheba, Dr. Ygal Rotenstreich, who produced a concentrated powder from the algae and made pills out of it. At first it was tested on seven patients suffering from night blindness, and after 90 days of treatment, there was considerable improvement in their night vision and in the electrical performance of the retina.

The study was then expanded to 30 patients with retinitis pigmentosa, who were treated for 90 days, some with the algae powder and some with a placebo. Then the treatments were switched, with those who had been given the placebo taking the algae pills, and vice versa. Neither the patients nor their doctors knew who was being given what, and when.

It emerged that 34 percent of the patients experienced a significant improvement in their field of vision and electrical retina response, but only after they had been treated with the algae. Some experienced as much as a quadrupling of their field of vision. There was no improvement among the first group during the period they were given the placebo.

Because the algae is fatty, patients experienced some loose stools, but otherwise there were no significant side effects. The findings were published in the May issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, published by the American Medical Association.

The algae is now being specially grown in Eilat by a Japanese-owned firm in order to increase the content of its active ingredients, Rotenstreich said.

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