Bionic eye implant enables blind UK woman to detect visual signals


An 88-year-old woman has told of her joy at becoming the first patient in the UK to benefit from a groundbreaking bionic eye implant that enabled her to detect signals for the first time since going blind.

The woman from Dagenham suffers from geographic atrophy. The condition is the most common form of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which affects millions of people worldwide and can cause loss of sight.

The breakthrough, which experts say offers hope of restoration of sight to people suffering vision loss because of dry AMD, involves a revolutionary chip that was implanted behind her blind left eye. Hi-tech camera glasses she was given to wear this week captured the scene in front of her before relaying the data to the implant that sent an electrical signal to her brain – just like natural vision.

“Losing the sight in my left eye through dry AMD has stopped me from doing the things I love, like gardening, playing indoor bowls and painting with watercolours,” the unidentified woman said in a statement released by Moorfields eye hospital NHS foundation trust.

“I am thrilled to be the first to have this implant, excited at the prospect of enjoying my hobbies again and I truly hope that many others will benefit from this too.”

She received the Prima System device – developed by Pixium Vision in France – at Moorfields in London as part of a Europe-wide clinical trial backed by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

HIV: First woman in world believed to be cured of virus


A US patient is believed to be the third person in the world, and first woman, to be cured of HIV.

The patient was being treated for leukaemia when she received a stem cell transplant from someone with natural resistance to the Aids-causing virus.

The woman has now been free of the virus for 14 months.

But experts say the transplant method used, involving umbilical cord blood, is too risky to be suitable for most people with HIV.

The patient’s case was presented at a medical conference in Denver on Tuesday and is the first time that this method is known to have been used as a functional cure for HIV.

The patient received a transplant of umbilical cord blood as part of her cancer treatment and has since not needed to take the antiretroviral therapy required to treat HIV.

The case was part of a larger US study of people living with HIV who had received the same type of blood transplant to treat cancer and serious diseases.

The transplanted cells that were selected have a specific genetic mutation which means they can’t be infected by the HIV virus.

Scientists believe the immune system of recipients can develop resistance to HIV as a result.

Covid blueprint to transform new drugs for millions


The scientist who identified the first life-saving Covid drug will launch a project tomorrow to transform treatments for heart disease, dementia and arthritis.

Sir Martin Landray was the architect of the world-leading Recovery trial which identified the cheap steroid dexamethasone as an effective treatment.

His new not-for-profit organisation, Protas, will run low-cost, stripped-back clinical trials for the most common but often neglected diseases, which would also include depression and chronic respiratory disease.

Eighty-five per cent of debilitating illness in the world is caused by the ten most common diseases.

Landray said drug trials had become overly complicated and “hideously” expensive, and were failing to deliver effective, affordable drugs for patients.

Testing a drug typically costs more than a billion dollars and takes an average of seven years. When it comes to treating high cholesterol or blood pressure, companies aren’t willing “to take that billion-dollar bet”, Landray said. And if they do, the drugs end up costing so much that patients do not use them. A new class of cholesterol drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors, for example, emerged seven years ago as an alternative to statins but are rarely used because they cost £4,450 a year compared with £20 for statins.

By using the model of the Recovery trial — which has been credited with saving more than a million lives from Covid — Landray believes he can cut the cost of trials by more than 90 per cent.

Erin Jackson’s Olympic dream back on after friend Brittany Bowe gives up spot


Erin Jackson is heading to the Beijing Olympics thanks to Brittany Bowe.

Bowe has given up her spot in the 500 meters, allowing Jackson – ranked No 1 in the world in the 500 – to make the US team, according to a report on USA Network. Jackson slipped in her race Friday in Milwaukee and finished third in the event she has dominated this season.

Bowe won the 500 and Kimi Goetz took second, putting them on the team. The rules didn’t allow for Jackson to have a re-skate – only a mechanical failure or a fall are reason for a do-over.

In November in Poland, the 29-year-old Jackson became the first Black woman to win a World Cup event. She won four of eight 500 races on the World Cup circuit, along with a second and third.

Bowe and Jackson are friends from the same hometown of Ocala, Florida.

The 33-year-old Bowe had hinted of her decision on Saturday, saying: “Hopefully we get three spots when we get to the Olympics, but as of now, it seems that the only way Erin will get to compete in the Olympics is if one of us gives up that spot.

“I’m hopeful that internally we can figure that out and all three of us are in Beijing.”

Jackson will be making her second Olympic appearance, having finished 24th in the 500 in 2018, not long after she switched from online skating to the ice.

Three-time Olympian Bowe will compete in the 1,000 and 1,500 in Beijing.






We rely on our posties to bring us our mail every day, and they work tirelessly to make sure everyone gets their letters and parcels on time.

And one neighbourhood’s beloved postman has received huge praise for his hard work, after generous residents teamed up to try and raise a £100 Christmas tip – but ended up raking in almost £2,000.

Jodie Hoskins set up the fundraising page to encourage people in the area of Worthing, West Sussex, to chip in and support their “wonderful” postman, Phil Hammond.

Eager locals flooded the page with thoughtful messages to the “best postman ever” and ended up smashing the £100 goal set by Jodie – with a total of £1,845 donated to Phil.

The postman, who is due to get married soon, said of the kind gesture: “I would like to thank all my customers and wish them a very happy Christmas. I’m very proud to serve them in my job at Royal Mail.”


“Believe you can and you’re half way there”

Theodore Roosevelt