The Beverly Hills-based Lincy Foundation, the primary philanthropic vehicle of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, has awarded a four-year, $4.8 million grant to Oregon Health & Science University for its Retinal Degeneration Center at the Casey Eye Institute, the Oregonian reports.
The Portland-based center is one of the few U.S. eye institutes testing stem cell therapies as a way to prevent blindness from degenerative eye diseases such as macular degeneration, which affects about 1.7 million people in the United States. In addition to OHSU, project partners include the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton and the Stem Cell Research Program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
"Right now, with some of these diseases, vision loss happens really quickly," said OHSU spokeswoman Liana Haywood. "It's hard to regain your vision with the treatments that we have now once you've lost it."