May 7, 2007

Studies Examine Effect Of Male Circumcision On Sexual Behavior, Breast-Feeding Interventions For HIV-Positive Women

The following highlights recently released journal articles on HIV/AIDS.

Male Circumcision in Siaya and Bondo Districts, Kenya: Prospective Cohort Study To Assess Behavioral Disinhibition Following Circumcision," Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: Kawango Agot -- project coordinator of a collaborative research project among the University of Nairobi, University of Illinois and the University of Manitoba -- and colleagues conducted the study among 324 recently circumcised men and 324 uncircumcised men to determine the effect of circumcision on sexual behavior. The researchers compared the two groups' sexual behaviors at one, three, six, nine and 12 months following circumcision or study enrollment. They found that during the first month following circumcision, men were 63% less likely to report having 0 to 0.5 risky sexual acts weekly than uncircumcised men. The researchers also found that during the first month following circumcision, men were 61% less likely to report having more than 0.5 risky sexual acts weekly than uncircumcised men. The differences in sexual behavior disappeared during the remainder of the follow-up period, and similar results were seen for risky unprotected sexual acts, number of at-risk sexual partners and condom use, according to the researchers. The researchers concluded that during the first year following circumcision, men did not report an increased number of risky sexual acts compared with uncircumcised men -- indicating that "any protective effect of male circumcision on HIV acquisition is unlikely to be offset by an adverse behavioral impact" (Kawango et al., Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 1/1).

Two-Year Morbidity-Mortality and Alternatives to Prolonged Breast-Feeding Among Children Born to HIV-Infected Mothers in Cote d'Ivoire," PLoS Medicine: Renaud Becquet of the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale Unite in France and colleagues conducted the study from 2001 through 2005 among 557 infants born to HIV-positive women in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. After their infants were born, the women, who underwent prenatal antiretroviral prophylaxis, either received breastmilk substitutes or exclusively breast-fed for four months. Nutritional counseling and clinical management were provided for two years, and breastmilk substitutes were provided at no cost. Thirty-four percent of the 262 infants who were breast-fed for an average of four months during the two-year follow-up period did not experience any adverse health outcomes -- which the researchers defined as diarrhea, acute respiratory infections or malnutrition -- compared with 37% of the infants who received breastmilk substitutes. The two-year probability of presenting with a severe health event -- which the researchers defined as hospitalization or death -- was 14% among the breastmilk substitute group, compared with 15% among the breast-fed infants. The researchers concluded that breastmilk substitutes and short-term breast-feeding can be safe interventions aimed at preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission in urban African settings where adequate nutritional counseling and care, access to clean water and breastmilk substitutes are available (Becquet et al., PLoS Medicine, January 2007). In a related opinion piece, Grace John-Stewart of the University of Washington writes that the researchers "provide good data to suggest that with appropriate provisos, replacement feeding can be a safe option to consider" for HIV-positive women in urban African settings (John-Stewart, PLoS Medicine, January 2007).

"Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Engineered Immune Cells And AIDS

Twenty years after its introduction, gene therapy still holds great promise as a way to harness the insidious power of viruses such as human immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV). But scientists have yet to solve a vexing problem: developing an efficient transport system that is capable of delivering therapeutic payloads to specific cells.

As challenging as the problem has been, researchers in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering may be turning a corner. With support from a $13.9 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a multi-institutional team of scientists, including Pin Wang of the USC Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, is exploring a completely new way of manipulating the body's natural defense system.

"Rather than focusing on conventional vaccines that boost the immune system, we are experimenting with a way to help the immune system produce antibodies that can neutralize the virus," says Wang. "If we can design a modified virus that will deliver these antibodies to chosen cells, we will be able to insert DNA that will help rather than harm cells."

Viruses are efficient carriers or transport vehicles in the body because they are naturally able to penetrate cells, inserting the genetic material they contain into their new host. By itself, a virus cannot reproduce; it must infect a cell and take control of the host's machinery to make copies.

HIV also possesses an unusual structure and a keen ability to hide from antibodies in a sugar-coated shield. The shield has very few open spaces on its surface, Wang says, which makes it virtually impossible to penetrate. And because the virus also has an uncanny ability to hide, HIV often goes virtually unnoticed by neutralizing antibodies that are roaming the body in search of foreign invaders.

Faced with such a clever adversary, Wang wants to synthetically alter the HIV invaders and use their hollow shells as delivery vehicles to insert DNA that will counteract the infection.

The "Cadillac" of this gene delivery system is an HIV-based "lentiviral vector," a type of retrovirus that uses the backbone of a virus to infect both dividing and nondividing cells. Wang says lentiviral vectors are very efficient delivery vehicles for human cells.

Collaborators on his project are targeting hematopoietic stem cells -- the bone marrow cells that form blood cells - to create B lymphocytes. The researchers want to reprogram these bone marrow cells by adding genes that will instruct the cells to produce rare antibodies such as B12, 4E10, 2G12 and 2F5. Wang says these antibodies are known to neutralize the virus.

"In laboratory tests, we remove harmful genes coding for the HIV virus and engineer the backbone, or spine, of virus so that it is no longer replicable " he says. "Once manufactured recombinantly, this modified virus - the lentiviral vector -- becomes a natural delivery system that can transport useful genes into cells without causing illness."

Although the gene delivery technique looks promising, researchers are still working on ways to manipulate these elusive bone marrow cells and get them to generate "designer immune cells." Another problem seems to be making sure lentiviral vectors target only hematopoietic stem cells, and not other types of cells, to achieve the desired targeted delivery.

With a group of USC biomedical engineering students and Caltech biologists, Wang is experimenting with CD20 as a target antigen for human B cells. His strategy, published in the August 1, 2006 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, targets the human B cells only. After two years of experimentation, the team has been able to demonstrate that they can specifically target human B cells in mice.

"Possibly the most important implication of the work is that gene therapy could now be carried out as an inexpensive procedure, able to be considered even in the less-developed world," Wang and his coauthors wrote.

That's good news for the World Aids Foundation, which announced on World AIDS Day (Dec. 1, 2006) that the disease is on the rise again. More than 39 million people around the world are now infected with HIV, the foundation reported.

"I think we are finally on the right track," Wang says. "If scientists can find a way to genetically engineer immune cells to neutralize HIV, we may be able to develop immunotherapy for HIV-Infected people, as well as find ways to prevent it all together."


Wang's research is part of the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, which was launched in 2003 to create "deliverable health tools" that were "not only effective, but also inexpensive to produce, easy to distribute and simple to use in developing countries."

Collaborators on the five-year project, titled "Engineering Immunity Against HIV and Other Dangerous Pathogens," include principal investigator David Baltimore of Caltech, co-principal investigators Pamela Bjorkman of Caltech and Wang of USC. The USC student researchers working on the project are Leslie Bailey, Taehoon Cho, Haiguang Yang and Alex Lei. All four are third-year Viterbi School graduate students majoring in chemical engineering.

Contact: Diane Ainsworth
University of Southern California

China Considering Evidence That Male Circumcision Could Reduce Risk Of HIV Infection, Unlikely To Launch Campaign, Health Official Says

China is considering evidence that routine male circumcision could reduce a man's risk of HIV infection but likely will not implement such a campaign nationwide, Ru Xiaomei, deputy director general of China's National Population and Family Planning Commission, said on Friday, Reuters U.K. reports (Blanchard, Reuters U.K., 1/19). Data from two studies conducted in Kenya and Uganda released last month by NIH indicate that routine male circumcision could reduce a man's HIV infection risk through heterosexual sex by about 50%. According to researchers, male circumcision eliminates the cells most vulnerable to HIV. In addition, a circumcised penis develops thicker skin that is resistant to HIV infection. The results of the Uganda and Kenya studies were similar to the results of a study conducted in South Africa in 2005 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/14/06).

According to Ru, Chinese officials have seen the results of the studies conducted in Africa, but the "AIDS situation in China has not yet reached such a large scale (as in Africa)." She added, "I'm not yet totally certain about the evidence for circumcision. We should exercise caution." According to Reuters U.K., the number of circumcisions performed in China is low compared with some Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan and Indonesia. In addition, a wide-scale male circumcision campaign might encounter resistance from China's non-Muslim majority, according to Ru. She added that the cost of such a campaign might present an issue because of China's 1.3 billion population. "It would be a big deal," she said, adding, "It's much more reasonable to get people to use condoms" (Reuters U.K., 1/19). <

"Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

A Spoonful Of Sugar Makes The Medicine Work

There will soon be no more bitter pills to swallow, thanks to new research by University of Leeds scientists (UK): a spoonful of sugar will be all we need for our bodies to make their own medicine.

Professor Simon Carding of Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences has adapted a bacteria in our own bodies to make it produce a treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Bacteria and viruses have been used before to deliver drugs in this way, but Professor Carding has solved the major problem with this kind of treatment: he uses a sugar to 'switch' the bacteria on and off. By eating the sugar, a patient will set the medicine to work and then can end the treatment simply by stopping consumption of the sugar.

"Current bacteria and virus delivery systems produce their drugs non-stop, but for many treatments there is a narrow concentration range at which drugs are beneficial," said Professor Carding. "Outside of this, the treatment can be counterproductive and make the condition worse. It's vitally important to be able to control when and how much of the drug is administered and we believe our discovery will provide that control."

Professor Carding has modified one of the trillions of bacteria in the human gut so that it will produce human growth factors which help repair the layer of cells lining the colon, so reducing inflammation caused by IBD. But he's also adapted the bacteria so it only activates in the presence of a plant sugar called xylan that is found in tree bark. Xylan is naturally present in food in low concentrations, so by taking it in higher quantities, a patient will be able to produce their own medicine as and when they need it.

"The human gut has a huge number of bacteria, and this treatment simply adapts what's there naturally to treat the disease," said Professor Carding. "We're already looking at using the same technique for colorectal cancer, as we believe we could modify the bacteria to produce factors that will reduce tumour growth. Treatment of diseases elsewhere in the body might also be possible as most things present in the gut can get taken into the blood stream."


The discovery has been patented - and is being developed further with support from the University's technology transfer partner, Techtran Group Ltd - part of the IP Group plc - and the Medical Research Council. The technique has been shown to work in vitro, but the researchers will be testing the treatment over the next twelve months in preparation for clinical trials.

Contact: Jo Kelly
University of Leeds

Cbl-b Resists Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection

Infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a major problem for patients in hospital, who are at increased risk of infection because they often have a weakened immune system, as well as individuals with cystic fibrosis. One of the things that makes P. aeruginosa so virulent is the expression of a number of proteins that function as a type III secretion system. In a study that appears online on January 18 in advance of publication in the February print issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers from the University of California at San Francisco, have identified Cbl-b as a protein that helps protect mice from infection with P. aeruginosa by targeting one of the components of the type III secretion system, ExoT.

Joanne Engel and colleagues found that in cultured human cells, ExoT was targeted for destruction by the host protein Cbl-b. More importantly, ExoT was shown to be important for bacterial dissemination in mice infected with P. aeruginosa and mice lacking Cbl-b were more susceptible to both intranasal and systemic infection with P. aeruginosa than wild-type mice. This study therefore identifies Cbl-b as a component of early host defense against infection with P. aeruginosa, an observation that could help develop new strategies for the treatment of individuals infected with this major opportunistic pathogen.

TITLE: The ubiquitin ligase Cbl-b limits Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin T-mediated virulence


Joanne Engel
University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


JCI table of contents: Jan. 18, 2007

Contact: Karen Honey
Journal of Clinical Investigation

April 16, 2007

International Response To Fight HIV/AIDS Among Children 'Tragically Insufficient' But 'Beginning To Change,' U.N. Report Says

The world's response to fighting HIV/AIDS among vulnerable children remains "tragically insufficient," but some countries are making progress in providing treatment for HIV-positive children and preventing transmission of the virus, according to a report released Tuesday by UNAIDS, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, the New York Times reports (Altman, New York Times, 1/17). The report, released on the first anniversary of the "Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS" program, found 15.2 million children under age 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related complications (AFP/Yahoo! News, 1/16). The campaign -- which is a partnership between UNICEF, UNAIDS, and other organizations and agencies -- aims to reduce the incidence of mother-to-child HIV transmission, curb the spread of the virus among young people, and provide protection as well as emotional and financial support to children who have lost parents to AIDS-related illnesses (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/10/05). The report says that 2.3 million children younger than age 15 were living with HIV in 2005 and that 10% of the 780,000 children in need of antiretroviral drugs had access to them during the same time period. About one-third of HIV-positive infants who do not have access to treatment die from AIDS-related complications in their first year, and half of them die from AIDS-related complications by age two, the report found. These statistics indicate that about 380,000 children died from AIDS-related illnesses last year, according to UNICEF. The report identifies seven countries -- Botswana, Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Namibia, Rwanda and Thailand -- that provided antiretrovirals to at least 20% of children in need of the drugs. The lack of access to prevention and treatment interventions has left about 15.2 million children orphaned, and the number is expected to increase to 20 million by 2010, according to the report. About 9% of HIV-positive pregnant women living in low- and middle-income countries in 2005 received antiretrovirals that could prevent MTC HIV transmission, up from 3% in 2003, the report found. About 10% of pregnant women living in sub-Saharan African capital cities are HIV-positive, according to the report. The majority of pregnant women in Africa do not have access to drugs aimed at preventing MTC HIV transmission, meaning that about one-third of their infants will become HIV-positive at or shortly after birth, according to UNICEF (New York Times, 1/17). The report also found that the most successful results occurred in countries that instituted a decentralized approach to HIV/AIDS service and training, demonstrated a political commitment to fighting the disease, and incorporated prevention and treatment to entire families (Leopold, Reuters, 1/16).

"Over the past year, there has been a broad, growing recognition of the need to intensify and accelerate action towards universal access to comprehensive prevention, treatment, care and support" for HIV/AIDS, the report says. It calls on governments to provide at least 10% of their HIV/AIDS funding for children and adolescents. According to the report, about $30 billion is required to address the prevention strategy set out by the Unite for Children campaign, which aims to provide services to 80% of HIV-positive mothers by 2010, provide antiretroviral or antibiotic treatment to 80% of children who need it, and reduce the number of HIV-positive young people by 25% within three years (AFP/Yahoo! News, 1/16).

The report is available online. Note: Adobe Acrobat is needed to view the report.

"Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

HIV/AIDS PSA Campaign 'Drawing Attention' Because Of Celebrities Involved, Messages, New York Times Reports

A "provocative" HIV/AIDS public service campaign airing on several media outlets is "drawing attention" nationwide because of the celebrities featured in the announcements and the "frank nature" of their messages, the New York Times reports. The campaign -- called "Look, listen, love, respect" -- has enlisted actresses Whoopi Goldberg, Amanda Peet, Rosie Perez and Susan Sarandon to deliver "candid, no-nonsense" messages linking drug use and risky sexual behavior with the spread of HIV among men who have sex with men, according to the Times. The Internet is a central focus of the campaign, which has launched a Web site, Video clips of the commercials also can be viewed on YouTube and MySpace. The campaign is scheduled to air on two national cable television networks, Here! and Logo, as well as on local cable TV stations owned by companies such as Cablevision, Cox Communications and Time Warner. In addition, there are plans to air the announcements in clubs and bars in cities nationwide and to produce audio versions of the spots for the national Out Q channel of Sirius Satellite Radio, the Times reports. The campaign is a collaboration between the New York City-based organizations HIV Forum NYC and the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. It is receiving financial backing from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Cable Positive, the Times reports. Dan Carlson, co-founder of HIV Forum NYC, developed the campaign with Jay Laudato, executive director of Callen-Lorde, and Colin Weil, a writer, director and producer. According to Carlson, the campaign features female actors because they "felt these honest, direct, loving messages would be heard best if told by women we can see as our mothers, best friends, sisters." He added, "They can tell us things we may not be ready to hear from each other" (Elliott, New York Times, 1/16).

"Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

WHO's Plan To Monitor HIV Drug Resistance In Botswana Likely To Fail

A World Health Organization (WHO) plan to track transmitted resistance to HIV drugs in Botswana could fail because the threshold the organization has set is too high, according to new UCLA research.

The authors of the study, which will be published Jan. 17 in the peer-reviewed online journal PLoS ONE (), based their research on the WHO's Botswana antiretroviral program, which began in 2002 and now treats some 42,000 patients. The program's goal is to treat 85,000 patients by 2009, roughly 30 percent of all those infected in Botswana.

As greater numbers are treated, the likelihood that a small percentage of patients will develop strains of HIV that are resistant to antiretroviral drugs increases. These patients may then transmit the drug-resistant strains to others, but the rates at which this may happen are unclear. The WHO surveillance system is intended to detect transmitted resistance exceeding a 5 percent threshold by 2009, though officials with the organization have not determined at what point this threshold might be reached, if at all.

According to the UCLA study, the WHO's detection test is based on a sophisticated statistical method, but the 5 percent detection threshold is an arbitrary one. Study co-author Sally Blower, UCLA professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute, said the WHO threshold was primarily based on guesswork.

"They did not make any mathematical predictions on how long it would take to get to their threshold," Blower said. "Essentially, they've guessed what would happen. They should have done things on a more quantitative basis."

Blower and co-author Raffaele Vardavas, a postdoctoral fellow in Blower's research group, developed a mathematical model that traces the random evolution of drug-resistant strains of HIV in Botswana through 2009. They found that drug resistance would indeed emerge but likely at a much slower rate than the WHO anticipates, and the organization would not be able to detect it.

Though easy to implement, the WHO's statistical test would detect transmitted resistance only after it has reached 5 percent, and that threshold would likely not be reached by 2009 unless the drug-resistant strains of the virus are extremely transmissible, the authors said.

The authors note that while the WHO's monitoring plan requires a small sample size and is relatively inexpensive, it may not be entirely cost-effective at the early stages of the treatment program due to the high threshhold. Instead, they suggest that checking for transmitted resistance early this year and dropping the threshold to about 3 percent would present a better picture of the situation in Botswana. Although a lower threshold requires a larger sample size and is therefore more expensive, it is much more likely to detect transmitted resistance and therefore would be more useful.

"If transmitted resistance is found to be at or above 3 percent, then repeating the WHO's test in the next scheduled occasion using a 5 percent threshold value would provide more information as to how quickly transmitted resistance is increasing in Botswana," Vardavas said. "Although this would be more expensive, it would probably be more cost-effective than the current strategy."


The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded the study.

About the UCLA AIDS Institute

Established in 1992, the UCLA AIDS Institute is a multidisciplinary think tank drawing on the skills of top-flight researchers in the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS, the first cases of which were reported in 1981 by UCLA physicians. Institute members include researchers in virology and immunology, genetics, cancer, neurology, ophthalmology, epidemiology, social science, public health, nursing, and disease prevention. Their findings have led to advances in treating HIV as well as other diseases, such as hepatitis B and C, influenza, and cancer.

Contact: Enrique Rivero
University of California - Los Angeles

Washington, D.C., Free Clinic To Close, Staff To Join Whitman-Walker Clinic

The Washington, D.C.-based Washington Free Clinic, which has provided low-cost or no-cost health care services since 1968 to people in the city, is scheduled to close on Friday, and its staff will be joining the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the largest provider of HIV/AIDS services in the region, the Washington Post reports. The Free Clinic serves about 1,800 patients, many of whom are working poor people and immigrants from Central America or Africa without health insurance. The clinic has a staff of about 50 volunteer doctors and nurses. Whitman-Walker -- which was launched by the Washington Free Clinic in 1973 as the Gay Men's VD Clinic and five years later became a separate organization -- is expanding its medical services in the district. Whitman-Walker has 7,000 clients, facilities in the district and Northern Virginia, and a $22 million budget. According to the Post, the alliance between the two clinics also will benefit Whitman-Walker after it experienced financial problems in 2005 that forced its leaders to "reconsider its long-term future," the Post reports. Gardiner Lapham, chair of the Free Clinic board, said, "It does come full circle. [Whitman-Walker is] now taking care of us," adding that closing is "really painful, but it's the right thing for the community." Free Clinic officials said they expect to be treating both Whitman-Walker and former Free Clinic clients by Jan. 29 (Levine, Washington Post, 1/14).

"Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Boston Micromachines' New Deformable Mirror To Enhance Retinal Imaging Systems For Earlier Detection Of Leading Eye Diseases

Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC), a leading provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror (DM) products for adaptive optics (AO) systems, today announced it has manufactured an enhanced DM capable of meeting the criteria for ultra-high resolution retinal imaging, which is necessary for early detection of ocular diseases. The new mirror will meet the demanding requirements of both OEM retinal imaging systems as well as vision science and microscopy researchers who use AO for biological imaging.

"This new deformable mirror represents a significant scientific advancement in the field of biological imaging, specifically vision science. Until now doctors were limited in their ability to gain a clear view of the human retina due to image distortion caused by tissue-induced wavefront aberration. Our deformable mirror corrects for that wavefront aberration," said Paul Bierden, president of Boston Micromachines. "This marked improvement in retinal imaging will provide doctors the technology necessary to detect the leading diseases of the eye: glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration years earlier than previously possible. Earlier detection will result in earlier diagnosis and earlier treatment."

The new mirror, which is an enhanced version of Boston Micromachines' flagship product the Multi-DM, delivers increased stroke while maintaining the high resolution afforded by its 140 independently controlled actuators. The mirror's 3 kilohertz frequency capability allow for high speed real-time imaging with a 6mm aperture perfectly suited for a dilated pupil. In addition, the new Multi-DM also provides the wavefront amplitude correction needed for older eyes by offering 6 microns of stroke. This translates to 12 microns of wavefront correction, the most wavefront correction demonstrated by any MEMS DM on the market today. The development work on this MEMS device was partially funded by the Center for Adaptive Optics, a NSF Science and Technology Center, and by a National Eye Institute Phase I SBIR.

The improved Multi-DM will also enable enhancements in other biological imaging areas. Biological imaging instruments often suffer from resolution limitations, constraining the ability of researchers and clinicians to detect critical detail. This loss in resolution is due to the wavefront aberrations induced by the tissue media through which light passes to reach the object of interest, such as a cell, retina, or tumor. The Multi-DM's ability to actively correct for these aberrations will restore resolution and enable the extracting of vital information from biological specimens.

"The ever increasing strokes in deformable mirrors, such as the 6um achieved with BMC's new Multi-DM, will allow for deeper AO corrected imaging in biological specimens, more effective correction when used at longer wavelengths, and improved performance specifications in systems such as the Adaptive Scanning Optical Microscope (ASOM) and other AO based imaging systems," said Ben Potsaid, Research Scientist at the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS) located at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

"Commercial systems require low cost DMs. Never before has there been a compact, affordable DM available with this magnitude of resolution. Ours is the only technology that meets the criteria of resolution, speed, size, stroke," said Bierden. "This will enable adaptive optics to become a reality for commercial instruments."

About the Multi-DM

The Multi-DM is the flagship product in Boston Micromachines' award- winning suite of MEMS deformable mirrors, which are used to improve resolution in microscopes, telescopes, and ophthalmic instruments. The popular and versatile Multi-DM offers sophisticated aberration compensation in an easy-to- use package. Typical applications include advanced retinal imaging systems, laser communication and beam forming.

At Photonics West

Boston Micromachines will be demonstrating the new Multi-DM at Photonics West 2007 (January 20-25) in San Jose, California, at Booth 6180.


The new Multi-DM is available immediately.

About Boston Micromachines Corporation

Founded in 1999, Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC) is the leading provider of advanced MEMS-based mirror products for use in commercial AO systems, applying wavefront correction to produce high resolution images of the human retina and enhance images blurred by the Earth's atmosphere. The company's suite of award-winning compact DM products are the most economical high-performance mirrors in the market today. They are widely used in vision science applications such as advanced optic retinal imaging, long range laser communications and astronomy, including NASA's search for planets in other solar systems. Customers include leading manufacturers of optical imaging and communication systems, governmental agencies and contractors and vision science research laboratories worldwide, such as NASA, UCal Berkeley, Lockheed Martin and Boston University. Located in Watertown, Mass., BMC is privately held and also offers custom design-manufacturing services. For more information on BMC, please visit

Boston Micromachines Corporation