Kudos To The New Gene Therapy, Blindness Can Now Be Reversed
Untreatable blindness could now be reversed, thanks to the new gene therapy technique. This is the conclusive proof of an animal study conducted by researchers in the University of Oxford.
New gene therapy can help reverse blindness
- New gene therapy can help reverse blindness
- this treatment, damaged cells are reprogrammed at the back of the eye
- Retinitis pigmentosa, the most common cause of blindness in young people
Untreatable blindness could now be reversed, thanks to the new gene therapy technique. This is the conclusive proof of an animal study conducted by researchers in the University of Oxford. Under this treatment, damaged cells are reprogrammed behind the eye. The gene therapy is an experimental medical technique which works on genes to prevent or treat the disease. This therapy involves either of the two, replacement of new gene into the cells or removing the non-functional ones.
Majority of the untreatable blindness cases are due to loss of function in the light sensitive photo receptor cells which lines the retina. It is a light-sensitive layer behind the eye which converts light into neural signals and then sends it to the brain.
In this study, researchers introduced a gene to the non-functional cells of the retina in blind mice. These mice suffered from retinitis pigmentosa. This was accomplished by using a viral vector, a biological tool which allowed the researchers to place the genetic material into cells.
This gene carried genetic information required for eye cells to start producing light sensitive proteins called melanospin. This helped in restoring function and allowed the mice to see again.
Post this therapy, the mice were able to maintain the restored vision for a complete year. During this whole period, it was observed that the mice were able to recognize objects around them.
One of the leader researchers of this study, Mark Hankins, revealed that it resulted in "long-lasting restoration of functional vision". Hankins explained that researchers at Oxford are also trying to achieve restoration of the same with an artificial retina in blind patients. But the gene therapy proved to be easier as it did not require complex surgeries or implantation procedures.