The researchers of the University of California found that by inserting a gene for a green-light receptor in retina they may be able to bring back the lost eyesight.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communication on March 15, 2019.
The team of scientists experimented the new therapy on a blind mice, by inserting a green-light receptor into its eyes. For this researchers have developed a virus, that aimed for the retinal ganglion cells. Ganglion cells help in forming the visual images inside the brain.
In the experiment, the research team injected this virus in the eye of the mice. The gene present in the virus made the ganglion cells light-sensitive, which are normally otherwise insensitive to light. This made ganglion cells possible to send signals to the brain and get converted into sight. The researchers have been successful in making 90 percent of ganglion cells to light-sensitive cells.
According to the researchers, the same treatment will be done to treat human eyesight. However, they will need many more virus particles as a human eye has a thousand times more ganglion cells than mice.
Ehud Isacoff, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and director of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, said, “You would inject this virus into a person’s eye and, a couple months later, they’d be seeing something. With neurodegenerative diseases of the retina, often all people try to do is halt or slow further degeneration. But something that restores an image in a few months — it is an amazing thing to think about.”
The researchers are now trying to insert this new light sensor into a high percentage of ganglion cells for human treatment.
For this research, the team of scientists is raising funds to do more accurate research that transfers the gene therapy into a human trail. The researchers have claimed that for this research it would only take them three years to implement this experiment successfully.
According to the reports around 170 million (17 crores) people around the world suffer from age-related macular degeneration (an eye disorder). Also, about 1.7 million (17 lakh) people have inherited blindness, called Retinitis Pigmentosa which is a rare genetic disorder that causes the breakdown or loss of cells in the retina. People suffering from this disease become blind by the age of 40.
The researchers have claimed that this treatment will be beneficial to those who have lost their eyesight because of retinal degeneration. With the help of this treatment, blind people will get enough vision to read, watch videos or to perform daily basic tasks.