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Future Of Boston: Leading The Way In Biotech Research

By Lisa Hughes, WBZ-TV
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Award-winning journalist Lisa Hughes is a news anchor for WBZ-TV News...
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BOSTON (CBS) – It may look like an ordinary contact lens, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

It also makes sure people get their medicine.

(WBZ-TV)

(WBZ-TV)

“What we’ve done is taken a commonly used glaucoma drug and put it inside a contact lens with a very thin drug polymer film,” Dr. Joseph Ciolino of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary told WBZ-TV.

The drug then releases slowly over one month, saving patients from going blind.

“The benefit is that patients won’t have to think about taking their medicine,” says Dr. Ciolino.

The contact is the brainchild of doctors at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Boston Children’s Hospital, a powerhouse collaboration that could only happen in Boston.

“You can get these really great productive collaborations between completely separate institutions and that’s extremely powerful,” says Dr. Daniel Kohane of Boston Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Kohane brings his skills of drug delivery to the project, while Dr. Ciolino, an ophthalmologist, brings his knowledge of the human eye.

The contact could be ready for human trials within the year and could eventually be used for a wide range of drugs.

Across town at Tufts Medical Center, there’s a different focus for researchers on the multi-billion dollar vitamin industry and what could be the definitive study on vitamin D and type 2 diabetes.

The implications could be huge for the 79 million Americans at risk for diabetes.

“We are embarking on this study to really rigorously assess whether vitamin D supplementation will reduce one’s risk of diabetes,” says lead researcher Dr. Anastassios Pittas.

If the D2D study proves vitamin D can prevent diabetes it will change the way doctors manage the condition, as soon as results are known in four years.

Right now the D2D study is looking for participants who might be at risk.

If you’re interested, visit D2DStudy.org  or call 617-636-2842.

From the labs in Boston’s major hospitals to the growing number of biotech companies in Cambridge and beyond there is no question that research in the greater Boston area will change the way people get medical treatment all over the world.

“Boston is the hub of everything when it comes to science and health care,” said Kathy Giusti, and she should know.

She’s not only a patient at Dana Farber, she’s the founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and a fierce advocate for sharing patients’ unique genetic code in the hunt for a cure.

“While it sounds overwhelming it’s just a process by which you have to learn exactly what you have to get the best care,” she told WBZ.

And to help scientists create the best possible treatments, Kathy is working with Cambridge biotech firm Genospace.

“How do you actually take that data and take it the last 100 yards? How do you cross the finish in this marathon of building personalized medicine,” asks Dr. John Quackenbush the CEO of Genospace and a Dana Farber cancer researcher.

That finish line is all about finding the best personalized treatment for an individual patient. Collecting genetic information on tumors isn’t enough. Scientists have to be able to really dig into the data.

“The whole question is how do you make sense of that data,” said Dr. Quackenbush.

The Genospace answer to that question is turning endless pages of computer data into an interactive visual that scientists can manipulate to unlock the secrets of treating disease.

“The winners and losers in the race to cure disease are going to be those who are really well positioned to collect manage analyze and interpret data.”

And with our intense concentration of hospitals, biotech, and colleges, Dr. Quackenbush says Boston is uniquely positioned to lead the way when it comes to finding all kinds of cures.

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

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