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Derrek Lee, star first baseman and slugger for the Chicago Cubs.
Now is an opportune time to find LCA patients because of advances in the genetic
understanding of the disease and because of new prospects to treat and even cure
the disease, he adds (see sidebar). Since the mid-1990s, nine genes for LCA have
been identified, accounting for 65 percent of the cases. Stone, whose research
team identified one of those genes, estimates that four or five more culprit
genes will be discovered. If all 3,000 LCA patients were identified, their
histories taken, and their genes studied, Stone says, the disease would be
better defined and, he hopes, new therapies devised.
Lee has been eager to help. "I needed to do something," he says.
"When they told me about treatment being a bit of a ways away, my first
question was 'What can I do to speed this process?'" Within six weeks of
launching Project 3000 more than a dozen LCA patients previously unknown to
Stone had agreed to participate and donations started coming in from all over
Photo: Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo