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Biotech Science

Gene Therapy Restores Sight To Blind 157

Posted by kdawson
from the falling-scales dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Looks like we have found a cure for genetic blindness (clinical trialabstractpaper [PDF] — ABC News video). This gene therapy treatment increases both cone and rod photoreceptor-based vision. These engineered viruses are implanted to do our bidding to restore vision. Clinical trials on 6 children and young people proved the therapy and didn't find any notable side effects." Any blind person, especially any adapted and competent one, who wants to gain the sense of sight would be well advised to study Oliver Sachs's classic piece "To See and Not See."
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Gene Therapy Restores Sight To Blind

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  • Myopia (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mxh83 (1607017) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @02:44AM (#32082200)

    Could this apply to myopia too? Could it be an option to LASIK?

  • coloublind (Score:3, Interesting)

    by retech (1228598) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @02:46AM (#32082214)
    I'd do it for colourblindness.

    "...if only you could see what I've seen with your eyes!"
  • Blindness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @02:49AM (#32082224)

    Losing sight has always been my greatest fear. I understand a lot of blind people can live perfectly fine lives, but I can't think of many worse futures. (I know the news are about genetic blindness, but still).

    The day someone comes up with a way of completely bypassing the eyes, for example by perfecting the technology of connecting cameras directly to the brain, will feel as important for me as the day someone finds a way of curing all medular wounds.

    It may sound stupid but one of the few reasons I've got for accumulating more money is being able to pay the medicine I hope will exist by the time my body starts failing in those kind of ways.

  • Re:coloublind (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @02:59AM (#32082274) Homepage Journal

    I agree. I can hardly see into the ultraviolet and infared and I would love to be able to see microwaves...

  • Re:coloublind (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:16AM (#32082330) Journal
    Interestingly enough, the acrylic lenses used in cataract lens replacement therapy are a bit more transmissive in the infra red than the ones you are born with.

    I haven't noticed much improvement along those lines (I haven't done any empirical studies myself) although my night vision is superb compared with how it was at any time prior to the surgery.

  • Re:Myopia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dltaylor (7510) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:16AM (#32082698)

    There's a "design flaw" in the lens. Unlike bones, that have cells that both remove and replace bone, the lenses only have cells that smooth the surface by adding more material. After a few decades, the lens is too thick to be stretched for close focus, so we lose that ability, although distance vision may still be as good as when young.

    Some people can tolerate a pair of replacement lenses, one near-focusable for reading and one far-focusable, between them covering the full range of vision. IIRC, the dominant eye is close-focusable. Contacts are available in the same arrangement, but, again, not everyone can tolerate them.

  • Good news, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vegiVamp (518171) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:38AM (#32082768) Homepage
    Is it just me, or does 6 patients seem rather few for a significant trial ?
  • Then and now (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr2001 (90979) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @06:51AM (#32083020) Homepage Journal

    People are still making [ifwiki.org] plenty of text games, even more elaborate than the ones from the 80s (thanks to increased memory capacity, better tools, and evolving expectations). And indeed, they're popular with blind players who use screen readers.

  • Re:coloublind (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vahokif (1292866) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @07:40AM (#32083252)

    which had the added benefit of encouraging children to eat healthy food

    And, incidentally, food you could get with rationing.

  • Re:coloublind (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RealErmine (621439) <(commerce) (at) (wordhole.net)> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @09:10AM (#32083850)
    Chlorophyll eye drops help night vision: Article here [discovermagazine.com].
  • you are correct (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zogger (617870) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:55AM (#32086228) Homepage Journal

    I have the exact same situation. Even down to the not learning as much about electronics back in the day because I would miss on wire colors and resistor color bands etc. The other thing you mention, in seeing detail in the field is also correct. I can see animals and oddball stuff hidden in the bushes etc quite well. Even beat my dogs a lot when we are out walking around, because my brain doesn't think in color so much as it does shapes/lines, etc. I only see some very "loud" and brilliant basic colors, shades, etc..nope. Miss a lot. The docs said I was red green deficient. Well, heck ya! That's why I got tested in the first place...

      Anyway, I'll see the rabbit or squirrel or deer or wild turkey, etc well before they do, even close by. And other oddball things like that..for instance I can walk into a room and if a pin is on the floor, dropped accidentally, I will see it almost immediately, it just jumps out as a "wrongness" to the over all expected patterns. Coins on the sidewalk, freaking lots of them over the years. Even just the roundness of a copper penny will stand out to me laying in a green lawn.

    So ya, tradeoffs, your brain compensates.

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. -- Francis Bacon

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