Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A gene-based therapy partially restored a blind man's vision

 A side view of a man wearing an EEG cap and dark gogglesA 58 year old man with retinitis pigmentosa can now see and count objects due to a new gene-based therapy that "rewires" nerve cells in the eyes known as optogenetic therapy. Vision is still limited but more light is able to be picked up by the eyes and special goggles are required to assist. The therapy uses a light-sensitive protein to make nerve cells react and signal the brain when hit by a certain wavelength of light. Different from gene editing and traditional gene therapy, which can only assist in the degradation of eyesight and can only target certain genes, optogenetic therapy can aid with someone who has completely lost their vision regardless of what gene or disease caused the blindness. A virus was used to deliver instructions to the eye cells to create the light-sensing protein. As this is not a cure for blindness, it is a step towards the progress of neutralizing blindness.

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