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Biotech Science

Gene Therapy Restores Sight To Blind 157

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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  • Re:um... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @02:38AM (#32082172)
    Braille? Text to speech? Any one of the other multitude of ways that visually impaired people deal with daily to get through life meant for people with vision?

    Not to be blunt, but seriously...
  • by ^switch ( 65845 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @02:51AM (#32082236)

    "All three patients showed a statistically significant increase in visual sensitivity at 30 days after treatment localized to retinal areas that had received the vector."

    Well, one notable side-affect of the virus was improved vision.

  • Re:Old news? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by I kan Spl ( 614759 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @02:57AM (#32082266) Homepage

    It seems that you do not appreciate how long it takes to do real research.

  • by EvilDingo ( 1803734 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:09AM (#32082294)
    My children might have an incurable genetic blindness (we haven't tested them) that causes progressive blindness. After researching a bit, I found that the blind and visually impaired can use computers quite well with screen readers, but there wasn't a lot of accessible software -- especially games. [] was a great resource and helped me design an accessible audio-RPG called Entombed. [] - Full disclaimer: my site. I think the biggest hurdle (obvious from reading some of these comments) is that there isn't a lot of awareness that the blind can navigate and use computers.
  • Re:Blindness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:21AM (#32082346) Journal

    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

    Agree wholeheartedly. I was blind for a year, and was cured. Once you lose your sight you would crawl through broken glass if it meant you could get your eyesight back.

    I can see my wife's face, and my daughters are beautiful. Bring on science.

  • by frank_carmody ( 1551463 ) <pedrogent&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:37AM (#32082388)
    I have retinitis pigmentosa which affects me in a number of different ways. At the moment it's the night blindness that's the most problematic. But as the disease is a degenerative one and as there's no way to predict (or even give a rough estimate of) the time when I will be fully blind, not a day goes past when I don't think of what it will be like to be completely in the dark. I read these stories all the time and they're all like stories on holographic storage tech: Just 5-10 more years and it'll be here for me to enjoy...
  • by 2phar ( 137027 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @03:38AM (#32082394)
    As usual, ABC News reaches for the M word. Nothing supernatural.. more like many years of painstaking and brilliant science.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @05:30AM (#32082742)

    Me too. I was diagnosed 25 years ago, with a predicted 10 years before I would be completely blind. The disintegration has actually been a bit slower.

    Lots of things I can't do, but it doesn't hurt, and it really doesn't make life that difficult.

    The only problem I have at all is when I walk in to people by accident. One one occasion, I was accused of being on drugs, and on a couple of occasions (spilling a pint in a pub, for example), people have been pretty rude and wanted to start a fight.

    Honestly, without the intolerance from people, it is perfectly easy to cope. Never use your condition as an excuse, and good luck.

  • Proved?!?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Secret Rabbit ( 914973 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @07:27AM (#32083172) Journal

    Um, it takes a fuck load more than SIX kids to /PROVE/ something. SIX isn't anywhere close to statistical significance, nor does it even remotely demonstrate safety. Proven/proof are VERY big words and shouldn't be thrown around lightly. These preliminary results may be encouraging, but are FAR from proof. Especially, in the medical field.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982