Scientists develop new gene therapy technique for the visually impaired
Google develops new digital image web search
April 29, 2008
Scientists in Britain and America have reversed the declining vision of patients by employing a new gene therapy technique. And Google researchers say they have new software tech for digital images on the Internet that does for images what the company’s original PageRank software did for searches of Web pages. The quest to discover and salvage image and vision moves ahead.
“I enjoy seeing fine looking women in person and on the web and it’s great to know that medical science and computer technology are both working in that direction for my benefit,” said someone claiming to be Darth Vader, a visor-wearing visually-impaired being whose use of technology compensates for a whole lot of physical deficiencies. “I have plenty of problems with rebels and managing the Empire and I need all the visual aides I can get. Great eyesight and powerful search technology will go a long way to helping me get what I want. That Miley Cyrus is sure a little hottie isn’t she? I searched her on Google Images.”
Some people say we see way too much and that less is really more. “We shouldn’t be looking at all the stuff we do on the web, it’s not healthy. We see assassinations, horribly stupid videos, people in various states of dress and undress and surgical procedures that shouldn’t be out of the hospital, let alone on some kids bedroom PC,” said ethicist and lumberjack Susie Pine-Knott, a sexually liberated and career challenged woman who has an opinion on darn near everything. “We should fight the Google search plan and back away from modified virus gene therapy for eyes. We might think we’re just going to get what we already have, but get it more and better, but we could be wrong. Not all improvements are beneficial to people or society. Take Priscilla Presley’s Botox disaster for instance, some things are not worth the risk.”
USA Today reported that for the first time, doctors have used gene therapy to restore vision in patients with a rare and usually incurable form of blindness. The patients had an inherited disorder called Leber’s congenital amaurosis, which begins eroding eyesight at birth and leaves them blind by their mid-20s. Experts say the results are a welcome success in gene therapy, a promising idea that has had several major setbacks during the past 15 years. In gene therapy, doctors aim to replace defective genes with normal ones, using harmless viruses as delivery vehicles. A missing gene is injected into the eye within a modified virus.
The New York Times reported that at last weeks International World Wide Web Conference in Beijing, two Google scientists presented a paper describing what the researchers call VisualRank, an algorithm for blending image-recognition software methods with techniques for weighting and ranking images that look most similar. The research paper, “PageRank for Product Image Search,” is focused on a subset of the images that the giant search engine has cataloged because of the tremendous computing costs required to analyze and compare digital images. The company said that in its research it had concentrated on the 2000 most popular product queries on Google’s product search, words such as iPod, Xbox and Zune. It then sorted the top 10 images both from its ranking system and the standard Google Image Search results. Rather than relying on a text query, the service focuses on the ability to match shapes or objects that might be hard to describe in writing. Some people say that progress toward discovering indescribable things will be good for society.
“I struggle to describe what inner peace looks like and have a hard time imagining the site of an Islamofascist in a marketplace handing out flowers instead of blowing themselves and others up. These are difficult to visualize and tough to find, and any medical or technical advancement that helps us should be pursued,” said Mabel Maxwell-Smartt, a slender do-gooder often confused with a buxom matron who once secretly ruled a small town in Western Nebraska. “Of course just finding and seeing images of them won’t make them exist for real in our hearts and minds, but just agreeing on what they look like would be a really good step.”
In other news, Miley Cyrus, A.K.A. Hannah Montana, is creating buzz for provocative pictures by famed Vanity Fair photographer Annie Leibovitz. People Magazine said that Cyrus’s defenders suggest that the pictures – now available on the Vanity Fair Web site – may ultimately help the 15-year-old graduate into a more mature artist, while others are criticizing her for disappointing her ‘tween and teen fan base, which looks up to her as a role model. No word on whether Darth Vader is planning to ask her out anytime soon.
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