Curing Blindness May Be As Simple As Getting A Virus

It makes sense, we promise

Image via Wikipedia

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). You probably haven’t heard much about it, but if you live in the United States, it’s the most likely way you’ll lose your eyesight as you get older. Basically, the cells in your retina that detect light—aka the macula—tend to decline as you age, leading to vision loss and, in some cases, total blindness.

But a recent clinical trial tested an unorthodox method to treat and potentially prevent this from happening: giving patients a man-made virus. The trial’s findings, published last week in The Lancet, show that administering viruses may help doctors stall vision loss and eventually make age-related blindness a thing of the past.

For the trial, doctors gave the virus to 19 patients with advanced, wet age-related macular degeneration, a type of AMD that causes abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula to leak fluid. White Americans over the age of 80 are particularly vulnerable when it comes to getting the chronic eye disease. All the patients in this new trial were 50 years old or older and had little success with standard treatments. Though the virus was not drastically different from a common cold, doctors intended for it to jump-start the patients’ immune systems and help their eyes drain the problematic eye fluid.

What they found was substantial fluid reduction in four of the patients, some fluid reduction in two patients, and five who saw no improvement. According to Mic, doctors didn’t expect eight of the patients to see any improvement from the outset. But for the five who were expected to see some improvement and didn’t, it seems their bodies already had antibodies to ward off the homemade virus, deeming it ineffective. But for those who literally saw progress as a result of the virus, the trial is definitely worth replicating.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

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Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

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Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

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Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

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The disappearance of 40-year-old mortgage broker William Earl Moldt remained a mystery for 22 years because the technology used to find him hadn't been developed yet.

Moldt was reported missing on November 8, 1997. He had left a nightclub around 11 p.m. where he had been drinking. He wasn't known as a heavy drinker and witnesses at the bar said he didn't seem intoxicated when he left.

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