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By Ashleigh McMillan


Insulin-producing cells created in lab

Pancreatic cells that produce insulin have been created from human stem cells for the first time.

Previous attempts to create insulin-producing pancreatic cells were unsuccessful because cultivation would result in only non-insulin producing immature cells.

Researchers then identified that mature beta cells which produce glucose-responsive insulin had oestrogen-related receptor y (ERRy), while immature cells which cannot produce insulin do not.

By forcing the expression of ERRy in immature cells, scientists were able to switch on the gene and successfully make the stem cell to produce insulin.

The study published in Cell Metabolism has shown that the ‘switched-on’ beta cells can regulate blood glucose levels in diabetic mice.


Survey on use of digital health

The Department of Health is asking allied health professionals to complete a survey about digital health workflows.

The survey is investigating the impact of integrating digital health products into health-care settings and is being conducted by Allied Health Professions Australia. Digital health includes any form of sending or receiving digital messages, excluding text messages, and software tools used for managing patient information.

It is important for optometrists to complete the survey and demonstrate to the government the importance of digital health in the sector.


Genetic markers for glaucoma found

Five new genetic areas linked to an increase in primary angle closure glaucoma have been found in a new study by Flinders University.

The study profiled the genetic make-up of about 40,000 people, including 10,503 cases of primary angle closure glaucoma. Three genetic loci which were previously identified as possible genetic markers were confirmed to have a significant association with the disease.

The study was published in Nature Genetic in association with the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney and the Genome Institute of Singapore.


Essilor launches consumer website

Essilor has launched the Essilor Digital Hub, a new consumer-focused website that includes an interactive store locator.

The website has 175 pages of information related to good eye health, including fact sheets on how the eyes works and what to expect in an eye examination.

The store locator function allows consumers to place appointment requests. The Essilor Digital Hub can be accessed on computers, tablets and smartphones.


Grant and Travel Fellowships in Diabetes

The International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD) is offering two fellowship programs for the study of diabetes.

The Allan Drash Clinical Fellowship offers a US$5,000 travel grant to spend six weeks observing at a diabetes centre. The ISPAD Research Fellowship (US$25,000) is for professionals who will dedicate six months to diabetes-related research at a centre for excellence. 

Applications close 15 May. Details can be found on the Trialect website.


Eye tracking used to diagnose autism

A study has used remote eye tracking to distinguish between children with autism spectrum disorder and children who have other behavioural issues.

The primary aim of the study was to create an objective diagnostic tool for the autism risk index, as abnormal eye gaze is considered a primary characteristic of autism.

Findings have been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


Sensory integration varies

A new UCLA study investigating how audiovisual signals bind in the brain has found that the level of impact that one sense has on another varies from person to person.

The research was published in Psychological Science and rejects the hypothesis that sensory integration was controlled by a singular mechanism in the brain.

Filed in category: Uncategorised

Acknowledgement of Country

In the spirit of reconciliation Optometry Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.