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Science

Gene Therapy Experiment Restores Sight To Dogs 10

supermancan writes: "Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center's Scheie Eye Institute used gene therapy to restore sight to three dogs that were born blind, and report that the process will very likely work for humans, as well. Yahoo has the story."
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Gene Therapy Experiment Restores Sight To Dogs

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  • I keep hearing about deaf people who think cochlear implants are evil

    My wife has a cochlear implant and thinks it's a godsend. Remember that a few nutcases with outrageous opinions often get far more coverage than the sane majority.
  • Well, its true. I am writing from the scientific meeting where this work was originally reported a couple of days ago. The disease (Lebers congenital amaurosis) is a form of retinitis pigmentosa (the constallation diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa affects several million by the way).

    The reason that this limited form of retinitis pigmentosa was targeted for work was because it was a seen as a potentially fruitful proof of concept for gene targeted restoration of vision. The hope is that the same techniques pioneered in this form of blindness can be applied to other forms of genetically inherited blindness thus helping many others.
  • Logical enough. Did they give any stats, though, on what total percentage of blindness would be amenable to any kind of gene therapy? My guess is that you'd get about 10%. (Which ain't bad, but probably ain't Nobel level either.)
  • by Alik ( 81811 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @01:00PM (#258994)
    Reread the article. It's a specific single-gene disorder with about 2,000 patients in the country. The National Federation for the Blind [nfb.org] claims that there are about a million blind people in America. In other words, we're talking about 0.2% of blind people being cured. While that's wonderful for them, this isn't a massive breakthrough in the treatment of blindness.

    Most blindness isn't genetic. Much of it is due to cataracts and macular degeneration, which are diseases of aging. It's also caused by the complications of chronic diseases, especially diabetes (slow destruction of the vessels of the retina) and AIDS (death of retinal neurons due to cytomegalovirus). All of these except AIDS are not really understood, but are definitely not single-gene disorders that are likely to be amenable to gene therapy. My money's still on the retinal and cortical implant folks.
  • similaraly, the windows in my 90 honda haven't rolled down for years, yeah its a great car, but it would be nice if the windows rolled down wouldn't it? :)

    The great thing about this comment is I know no blind people are gonna read it!

  • by rjamestaylor ( 117847 ) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Saturday April 28, 2001 @12:34PM (#258996) Journal
    Prior Art [gospelcom.net]

    (Just kidding. This is quite an accomplishment - gene therapy to restore sight. A little different, perhaps than clay made from spit and dust...but maybe...maybe the spit contained the good gene (His genes were good, we can assume) and the delivery mechanism was the dust...maybe it's Saturday and I need sleep...)

  • by Vuarnet ( 207505 ) <luis_milan.hotmail@com> on Saturday April 28, 2001 @04:13PM (#258997) Homepage
    ...using dogs for helping blind people, it's nice to pay them back their favors.


    Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit, I
  • You probably meant to say:

    lynx -dump www.slashdot.org > /dev/audio

    Sorry to nitpick, but otherwise you're not going to hear anything!

  • lynx www.slashdot.org > /dev/audio

    Text-to-speech is for weenies.

  • by caite ( 252284 ) on Saturday April 28, 2001 @12:35PM (#259000) Homepage
    I keep hearing about deaf people who think cochlear implants are evil and about blind people who would refuse surgery. Generally the reasoning given is "Would Stevie Wonder be as talented if he could see? --- no of course not." As if they really believe his blindness caused him to be a good musician.

    So I wonder if there would be any takers for this treatment.

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

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