Millions of people around the world suffer fromdiseases that lead to the gradual degeneration of photosensitive cells in their eyes, which ultimately leads to complete blindness. Recently, researchers from the University of Burn and the University of Gotting have developed a way by which this process can be reversed. A special photosensitive protein will help them in this, which is able to restore the vision of blind people.
Retinitis pigmentosa, age-related maculardegeneration, diabetic retinopathy - these are just a few reasons why many people lose their sight. The current methods of combating these diseases are aimed at slowing down or stopping processes that destroy the retina even before the moment when a person is completely blind. For this, the drug approach, gene therapy, or a combination of both methods are used. However, such treatment does not always lead to successful results, and there is nothing to say about the restoration of lost vision.
A new therapeutic approach to treating blindnessreceived the name "optogenetic." During treatment, a special photosensitive protein is implanted into the patient’s retina, which can convert the surviving cells located in the lower layer of the retina into photoreceptors (the same rods and cones), after which vision gradually returns to the person. Unlike previous methods, the treatment does not require the use of bright light, which can lead to even more damage to the eyes.
The photosensitive chimeric protein is calledOpto-mGluR6. The advantage of using this protein is that it was created on the basis of two other retinal proteins, so the immune system will not reject it, and it is also much more resistant to discoloration and a decrease in photosensitivity, which affects many other proteins used in therapy until of this.
Scientists have already succeeded with the help of new therapyreturn vision to several laboratory mice suffering from retinitis pigmentosa. Rodents very well endured the recovery process and today have been able to return to their full-fledged "sighted life." The scientific work of scientists was published in the journal PLOS Biology, and now the next in line with a group of researchers are clinical trials in humans. And who knows, maybe in a few years blindness will recede under the onslaught of science.