Gene Therapy Can Make Blind Women See

It is simply revolutionary! Now blind women can see with the help of gene therapy called Optogenetics, mixing gene therapy with light treatments. Finally, researchers are getting a proper field for experimenting with the gene therapy for getting back eye sight.

A blind Texas woman is given the first optogenetics-based therapy by the doctors in hopes of restoring some of the vision lost to a degenerative retina disease. The procedure injected her eye with viruses containing DNA from light-sensitive algae, letting them mimic the eye’s rods and cones by generating electricity whenever they’re subjected to light. It is assumed that the patient won’t get full vision even if the therapy is a runaway success. It could be enough to let her know when there’s nearby activity.

Todd Sherer, a neuroscientist and CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research said, “This is a great early test of optogenetics, because the eye is so easily accessible.” The foundation is funding research on using optogenetics to study the circuits underlying Parkinson’s.

Apart from the implications of treating blind people, this trial is also being watched by the neuroscience community. If it is successful, it suggests that optogenetics has the promise to be a potential therapy for treating people afflicted with them as well as a lab tool for studying the brain circuits that underlie diseases like Parkinson’s and schizophrenia.

It is expected that certain forms of blindness may be relatively easy to mitigate. The cells can’t adjust their light sensitivity the way a retina can, so a truly effective system might need video glasses that automatically tweak the image brightness as the wearer ventures indoors or outdoors.

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