The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) allows Second Sight Medical Products Inc. of Sylmar, Calif. to obtain a limited exclusive license for inventions developed during the DOE Retinal Prosthesis Project.
"The Department of Energy has led the way to many scientific breakthroughs, especially when several scientific disciplines combined to make a whole greater than the sum of the parts," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said. "This project is one such example where biology, physics and engineering have joined forces to deliver a capability that will enable blind people to see. This agreement between the DOE laboratories and the private sector will facilitate transfer of many aspects of DOE technology to a clinical device that has the potential of restoring sight to millions of blind individuals.
An artificial retina could restore vision to millions of people suffering from eye diseases such as macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in people over 60), retinitis pigmentosa (the leading cause of blindness in people under 50), or those who are legally blind due to the loss of photoreceptor function.
Lawrence Livermore partnered with four other national laboratories, three universities and Second Sight on the project.
Engineers from LLNL's Center for Micro- and Nanotechnology specifically are developing a flexible silicone implant (microelectrode array) that sits on the surface of the retina. The electrode array can contact delicate retinal tissue without damaging it.
The implantable retinal prosthesis is based on a system that converts a video camera signal into a stimulation pattern that is applied
Contact: Anne Stark
DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory