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The eyes have it at NIH but eyes remain unseen so far

The National Institutes of Health have launched a competition to award a federal prize of $1 million for a bidder that can successfully replicate production of fully functioning eye tissue.

“What we really want from this competition is a better way to understand human retina disease and also learn about drugs that could potentially be worked for those diseases,” said Jessica Mazerik, who holds a doctorate of philosophy in cell biology and is the competition coordinator at NIH’s National Eye Institute (NEI).

Contestants are aiming to grow a fully functioning eye retina in a specimen dish. Researchers, biotechnology companies and pharmaceutical companies could then use the end product to research eye diseases and test potential treatments.

“We think we’re right on the cusp of being able to replicate the human light sensitivity of a human retina,” said Steve Becker, a colleague of Mazerik’s at NEI, who also has a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) in cell biology.

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NIH faces massive cuts under Trump budget

BETHESDA -- Under President Trump’s recent budget proposal, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is set to receive a major cut to its annual budget.

The proposal reduces the $31.7 billion NIH budget by approximately 18 percent. It also calls for the reorganization and streamlining of the various institutes to reduce overhead costs and the elimination of the Fogarty International Center.

“It’s definitely a distressing proposal, these are devastating cuts and a blow to the country," said Jamie Raskin (D), who represents Maryland's 8th Congressional District, which includes NIH as well as other federal research agencies including the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Science is an overall social project, and when you knock out the basic pillars, it devastates the entire enterprise,” he added.

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Congress struggles to be more HONEST about transparency

CAPITOL HILL – Republicans in Congress are having a second go at a measure they say will increase transparency of federal environmental regulations.

On March 29, the House of Representatives voted 228-194 to pass the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act (HONEST Act), which prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing an action, including a new regulation, unless the scientific and technical information used to make that decision is “the best available science; specifically identified; and publicly available online in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.”

Both Maryland Reps. Anthony Brown (D-4) and Steny Hoyer (D-5) voted against the measure.

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NIH studies alcoholism in young Native Americans

BETHESDA – A study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found effective ways to reduce alcohol use among American Indian and rural youth.

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, studied high school students in northeastern Oklahoma and found that two previously designed intervention programs showed a decline in alcohol use.

“This important study underscores our commitment to finding evidence-based solutions for alcohol problems in American Indian and other underserved populations,” said Dr. George F. Koob, Director of NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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Van Hollen blasts Trump budget cuts

Chris Van HollenSen. Chris Van Hollen (D)    FILE PHOTO  

CAPITOL HILL – Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) came out strongly against the budget proposal unveiled by President Donald Trump, which features harsh cuts to many federal agencies.

In a press conference on Thursday, Van Hollen said the budget blueprint Trump submitted that describes how his administration intends to allocate discretionary spending represents a “betrayal” of Trump’s campaign promises and everyday Americans.

“The Trump budget is great if you can get on a plane every weekend and fly to Mar-a-Lago. But it stinks for everybody else,” Van Hollen said, referring to the president’s Florida resort. “It is directly aimed at hurting working families, and it will hurt people’s opportunities to get ahead and make it in America.”

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NIH studies cancer in African Americans

BETHESDA – The National Institutes of Health has launched a study to examine incidence rates among African-American cancer survivors.

“What we saw was that African-Americans were experiencing higher cancer incidents than any other racial/ethnic group,” said Dr. Joanne Elena, a program director overseeing the study at NIH’s National Cancer Institute.

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AT&T reports nationwide disruption of 911 service

AT&T is reporting sporadic 911 service disruptions nationwide. If you attempt to call 911, but cannot get through, call 911 via another cell carrier, use a landline to call 911 or call 301-279-8000 for emergency service. 

The Sentinel will provide more details as the story develops.

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NIH begins trials on blanket vaccine for mosquito-borne diseases

BETHESDA -- Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have begun human trials to test a vaccine that is designed to protect against mosquito-borne diseases.

“A single vaccine capable of protecting against the scourge of mosquito-borne diseases is a novel concept that, if proven successful, would be a monumental public health advance,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

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NIH study could lead to reversing dementia

ST LOUIS, MO - A study funded by the National Institutes of Health has found a potential method that could prevent and reverse dementia.

The study examined tau proteins, a substance produced in brain cells, and determined that an altered form of DNA can be used to stop the production of the protein. When tau proteins production exceeds a certain level, it causes damage to brain cells that can cause dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“One of the things we found was, when we lowered the amounts of tau in the mouse study, we were able to prevent some of the problems that developed in the animal model,” said Dr. Timothy Miller, a Professor of Neurology at the Washington University of St. Louis.

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NIH finds adults suffer hearing loss

BETHESDA -- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) have found that approximately a quarter of adults within a certain age range suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.

Results indicate that 24 percent of adults aged 20 to 69 experience hearing loss at high frequencies, in what the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communications Disorders (NIDCD) terms as a noise notch.

“Of the 24 percent of adults with an audiometric notch suggestive of noise-induced hearing loss, 6 percent had a notch in both ears, and 18 percent had a notch in only one ear,” said Howard Hoffman, a coauthor on the study and director of the NIDCD’s Epidemiology and Statistics Program.

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