Our Research III


2009 - Foundation Fighting Blindness


The Clarke Family Foundation extends its commitment to save and restore sight!

We have approved continued support for the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) to aid the foundation’s ongoing commitment to funding research to save and restore sight to over 10 million Americans. This grant will help to fund various research projects that may lead to the discovery and development of promising preventions, treatments, and cures for age-related macular degeneration.

Such advances will make a tremendous difference not only to those affected by this devastating disease, but also to future generations of their families that also may be at risk for developing age-related macular degeneration.

The Clarke Family Foundation’s commitment to the foundation is a reflection of FFB’s solid reputation as a leader in the field of retinal disease research, ability to attract top scientific talent, and ability to identify and fund high quality scientific projects, like those described below:

  • In February 2009, Neurotech Pharmaceutical Co. announced that its high dose ciliary neurotrophic factor releasing implantable capsule slowed the progression of dry age-related macular degeneration in 96% of patients in a clinical study supported in part by FFB. The researchers found other measurable improvements in the retinas of treated patients.
  • In a human clinical trial that was based on the results of previous studies funded by FFB, Sirion Therapeutics announced in March 2009 that the oral medication fenretinide substantially slowed the progression of damaging lesions due to geographic atrophy, the advanced form of dry age-related macular degeneration.
  • FFB-funded investigator Dr. Terry Braun of Iowa State University has gathered detailed genetic, clinical, and demographic data for 800 people with age-related macular degeneration and has obtained detailed retinal images from more than 500 of those individuals. This information is being analyzed to establish gene-disease relationships, and to identify subgroups of patients with shared gene changes and shared patterns of disease presentation.
  • With a grant from FFB, Dr. Anne Calof of the University of California Irvine has found that altering the amounts of two different proteins in mice with an inherited retinal degenerative disease can result in regeneration of the damaged retinal cells during prenatal development. She is seeking to identify drugs that might be used to therapeutically adjust the amounts of each of these proteins that are present in the retina.
  • At the Cole Eye Institute in Cleveland, FFB grant recipient Dr. Stephanie Hagstrom tested 1,037 people with age-related macular degeneration and found six distinct changes in the PDN1 gene. One is weakly associated with risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, one is associated with protection against disease, and the others play minor roles relative to disease susceptibility.

The support of The Clarke Family Foundation is helping to achieve significant advances in age-related macular degeneration research. By supporting diverse projects, the Institute is helping to set the stage for the development of safe and effective treatments. The value of this type of approach, which is a hall mark of FFB’s research program, is reflected by the recent, unprecedented success of an FFB-supported clinical trial of using gene therapy to restore vision to people with a specific type of retinal degenerative disease. For more information about this important new finding, which has profound implications for everyone affected by a retinal degenerative disease and their families, visit the Foundation Fighting Blindness web site

2008 - Foundation Fighting Blindness


The Clarke Family Foundation supports cutting-edge retinal disease research.

In October 2008, The Clarke Family Foundation awarded a major grant to the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) to help support research to preserve, improve, and restore vision in millions of people worldwide who live with impaired vision or blindness, particularly those affected by age-related macular degeneration. Since its inception in 1971, FFB has raised and invested more than $350 million in support of its mission. This year the foundation is funding more than 130 research projects.

Many seek to discover promising new therapies while others are being, or soon will be, assessed in human clinical trials. Nearly 25% of the more than $13 million in funding that FFB is providing this year is supporting research related to age-related macular degeneration, an area of particular importance to The Clarke Family Foundation. The Institute’s funds are helping to advance progress in projects like the following:

  • FFB and the National Eye Institute are providing funds to enable Neurotech Pharmaceutical Co. to complete a study to determine if a tiny capsule implanted in the eye can halt or reverse retinal degeneration in people with age-related macular degeneration. The device contains cells that sustainably release a protein called ciliary neurotrophic factor that preserves light-sensitive photoreceptor cells under laboratory conditions.
  • A grant from FFB is enabling Dr. Johanna M. Seddon of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston to combine genetic information with information about age, disease status, smoking history, use of dietary supplements, and other factors that she can use to estimate the risk that people with age-related macular degeneration might develop the advanced form of the disease.
  • With support from FFB, University of Iowa researcher Dr. Terry Braun recently identified a new gene that is associated with age-related macular degeneration. He also is finding that genes commonly associated with a specific retinal degenerative disease in one population group may rarely be associated with the same disease in another group.
  • An FFB research grant is allowing Dr. Stephanie Hagstrom of the Cole Eye Institute in Cleveland to characterize changes in genes associated with the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, information that is critical to determining how such changes may lead to disease onset or progression.
  • At the University of California Irvine, Dr. Anne Calof is using her grant from FFB to explore the use of growth factors to reverse retinal degeneration, while Dr. Bärbel Rohrer of the Medical University of South Carolina is using her grant to screen thousands of potential drugs for their ability to preserve photoreceptors.

The Clarke Family Foundation is proud to support key projects such as these and applauds recent advances that will lead to a better understanding of age-related macular degeneration and to the development of preventions, treatments, and cures for this vision-robbing disease. For more details about this exciting research, visit www.FightBlindness.org!

2006 - Vitamin C and B12 Bioavailability study with Aloe vera


Human study finds that aloe vera enhances bio availability of vitamins B12 and C and ORAC among mature adults.

Irving, TX - Aloe vera is a powerful complement to other supplements, enhancing their absorbance and effects, according to a recent bioavailability study1. Both aloe vera gel and whole leaf aloe were tested in the randomized cross-over trial, with the gel demonstrating the strongest results in promoting the absorbance of vitamins C and B12. It only took one ounce of aloe to have substantial effects in enhancing the absorption of a 500mg dose of vitamin C and 1mg dose of B12.

Aloe prolonged plasma levels of those vitamins, stretching the beneficial effects out over a greater length of time when compared to the placebo. Aloe vera also promoted a significant increase in the antioxidant potential of the plasma, with ORAC ratings particularly high after 4 hour and remaining high even after 24 hours. Presenting the research, Dr. Sridevi Devaraj, Associate Professor at UC Davis, Laboratory for Atherosclerosis and Metabolic Research commented, "It's clear that consuming aloe vera along with vitamin supplements would be beneficially among populations for whom B12 deficiency is an issue, such as the elderly." Based on this study's results, aloe vera may be considered as an effective approach to getting the most out of any vitamin supplement program.

The UC Davis study was presented at the experimental biology convention in Washington DC in April of this year and has renewed dialogue about aloe within the natural products community. "There are so many surprising benefits of aloe vera," said Mr. Gene Hale, executive director of the International Aloe Science Council (IASC). "We hope this opens up new product ideas for beverage, food and supplement manufacturers and gets into consumers' hands. The positive effects are boundless for anyone who takes nutritional products."

The recent UC Davis study was supported by the IASC (www.iasc.org) and The Clarke Family Foundation (www.thealoeinstitute.org), hoping to build on previous research at the University Of Scranton that had looked at aloe's ability to enhance the bioavailability of vitamin C and E. Especially remarkable because of the finding that aloe vera enhanced the absorption of both fat and water-soluble compounds, the Scranton Study had concluded, "Aloe vera is unique in its ability to improve the absorption of both these vitamins and should be considered as an adjunct for people who take vitamin supplements." The UC Davis study strongly confirms this assertion.

2004 Aloe and Diabetes Study


The Clarke Family Foundation provided a small assistance to Dr. Danhof on his pioneering study of how drinking aloe juice can help reduce blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.

2002-2004 In-Vivo Effects Of Aloe

In-Vivo Effects Of Aloe - Emodin On Nude Mice: Glioma Xenografts

2002 Grant = $20,000

2003 Grant = $25,000

2004 Grant = $20,000

In April 2002, The Clarke Family Foundation embarked on a long-term aloe/cancer project with an experienced doctor and researcher, Dr. Mildred Acevedo-Duncan, located at the University Of South Florida in Tampa.

Dr. Acevedo-Duncan believes a substance in the yellow aloe sap, aloe-emodin, may have properties that will selectively kill brain tumor cancer cells without harming good brain cells.

Now with over one year in her research, the results are very exciting and she is repeating the experiment at least three more times with U-37M6 Glioma (brain cancer) cells and normal SV6 brain cells.

Dr. Acevedo-Duncan is also reinvestigating the effects of aloe-emodin on Protein Kinase C activity in U-373mg Glioma cells and normal brain cells when applied.

With this long-term project, perhaps 4-5 years, The Clarke Family Foundation may continue its grants to Dr. Acevedo-Duncan as her experiments continue to produce promising results.

2004-continued supporting the brain cancer work of Dr. Mildred Duncan and she continues to find positive results on her work with aloe emodin. The results are positive enough to begin additional studies.

2001 Bioavailability


The beginning study in this grant is to see what effect t aloe has on the human absorption of vitamins C and E, popular vitamin supplements. The study was performed by Dr. Joe Vinson with the Scranton University.

This study took single strength aloe vera gel (liquid) and whole leaf (liquid). The subjects took both vitamins C and E. Subjects took vitamins C and E with aloe and the others took vitamin C and E with water.

All subjects were carefully screened health wise, which included one-half men and one-half women. Age parameters were observed with limitations.

All subjects consumed fat free bagels at the proper time. Plasma and urine sampleswere taken to the test the bioavailability of both C and E. The tests reflected whether the vitamins were utilized showing up in the plasma and passed through with the urine.

The tests were remarkable in both types of aloe, about 3 times more beneficial when aloe is used to take the vitamins in place of water.

One vitamin was a little better with one type of aloe, but both were approximately 3 times more beneficial with aloe over only water.

Both the gel and the whole leaf aloe improved the absorption of vitamin e and prolonged its plasma concentration, especially after 8 hours.

For vitamin c, the aloe gel was especially effective in slowing down and increasing the absorption of ascorbate. It prolonged its plasma concentration, even for 24 hours.

This study proved that it is necessary to continue these tests using additional subjects for a more defined outcome.

The Clarke Family Foundation has promised the international aloe science council to cover over 50% of the cost of another expanded study on aloe and vitamin C and E. This study will be conducted in 2005-2006 and results will be included on this website.