Blind people are partially regaining their eyesight, thanks to a new gene therapy

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in helping blind people regain their eyesight, at least partially. The so-called optogenetic method is a pioneering method.

Blindness is often not curable under certain circumstances. However, using a new method, the researchers succeeded in partially restoring the man’s eyesight. Light-capturing proteins are built into one man’s eye, as the scientists did in an article in a specialist journal “nature” He wrote about that, too French News Agency And the “The New York Times” To report. It is the first published study describing the successful use of this treatment. 13 years of work have been completed.

The technique known as optogenetics, which has been developed in the field of neuroscience over the past 20 years, involves genetically modifying cells to produce proteins that are more sensitive to light. In some cases of blindness known as inherited photoreceptor diseases, the light-sensitive cells in the retina that use proteins to provide visual information about the optic nerve of the brain degenerate.

Subject can recognize objects

According to media reports, the patient is a 58-year-old man from France who has suffered from 40 years of vision loss.

During the treatment, multiple injections were made into his eye and stimulation with fluorescent glasses for several months. This converted images of the visual world into pulses of light that were projected into the retina in real time.

In the first clinical phase, the 58-year-old girl’s eyesight was partially restored. This enabled him to recognize, count, locate, and touch the various objects on a table in front of him. During the examinations, 92 percent of the time, the patient was able to locate the notebook and touch it on a table in front of him wearing special glasses without which he could not perform the tasks. However, complete eyesight cannot be restored.

Milestone for blindness

Butond Ruska of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology in Basel said the patient was initially frustrated because he was not able to perceive things with glasses even after months of training. Then he suddenly reported with great enthusiasm that he could see again, which he was very happy with, according to Ruska, the co-author of the study.

José Alain Sahel, lead author of the study from the Sorbonne in France and the University of Pittsburgh, spoke of a milestone and said the study confirms that it is possible to use optogenetics to restore vision in humans.

“Most importantly, blind patients with different types of neurodegenerative receptor disease and functional optic nerve may be eligible for treatment,” he said. However, it will take some time before this treatment is offered to patients.

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“A great achievement especially for the blind.”

The New York Times reports that in previous studies, researchers were able to treat an inherited form of blindness known as congenital hepatomegaly by repairing the defective gene. However, other forms of blindness cannot be treated with the same ease that people lose their photoreceptors completely. “Once the cells die, you cannot fix the genetic defect,” Sahl said.

Researchers originally developed optogenetics to study how the brain functions. “So far, I’ve looked at optogenetics primarily as a tool for scientists, with thousands of people using it to study the brain,” Ed Boyden, a MIT neuroscientist who was a pioneer in optogenetics, told the New York Times. “But if optogenetics proves itself in the clinic, that will be very exciting.”

“From a scientific point of view, especially for the blind, this is a great achievement,” Lucy Pellissier, a neuroscientist at the University of Tours in France who was not involved in the study, told the newspaper.

Dr. Sahl and his colleagues set up a company called GenSight to take their technology through clinical trials in hopes of gaining regulatory approval. There is actually another company called Vedere Bio, which Novartis has acquired. However, more positive clinical trial results will be required before optogenetics becomes the standard treatment for some forms of blindness.

Inflated: “nature”And the French News Agency (on France24) “The New York Times”

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