Blindness: is a Cure Possible?

Blindness: Is a Cure Possible?One of the most dreaded misfortunes that anyone could suffer is the loss of their sight. I know I couldn’t imagine life without being able to see the world around me. When I read recently about a startup that could possibly be in the beginning process to cure some forms of blindness, I immediately took an interest in what this company was trying to do.

The company is called Retrosense Therapeutics and is located in the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The experimental therapy involves what is called optogenetics in the hopes of treating those who are suffering from retinal degenerative disease. Patients who suffer from this disease experience both progressive and irreversible vision loss. The new therapy, if approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, could also help those who suffer from macular degeneration, which blinds over one million people here in the US.

The process itself involves the injection of a non-disease causing virus, which carries genetic information. This, in turn, stimulates the ganglion cells with proteins needed to increase light sensitivity. Thus far, experiments with rodents have shown promise and have restored some vision. The treatment appears to be safe for non-human primates who have also been tested.

What is at stake is the hope that the treatments will be able to restore functional vision to patients. What isn’t known, until the trials begin, is to what extent vision will be restored. Using rodents, the results have been very encouraging, with the hope that human subjects will respond similarly.

The injection is a one-time process and is normally carried out for a patient in the outpatient section of a hospital. Once the injection is complete, the gene enters into the retinal cell and begins to produce light-sensitive proteins. Vision can improve in as little as two weeks for some patients, while the normal process could take up to eight weeks or more. The other hope is that this will be a lifelong process and vision will be improved for the life of the patient. Since this is an outpatient procedure, the need for a follow-up examination may be necessary to check for infection or other problems that could occur — just a safety precaution, as anyone who has spent time in a hospital facility will understand.

Retrosense plans to begin its first clinical trial in 2013 with nine blind retinitis pigmentosa patients.

I could only imagine the excitement they will feel if they are able to regain their vision and put blindness behind them. Just to see family and friends once again would be a blessing, and to see the blue sky would be beyond words. The visible world that most of us take for granted would be a life-changing experience for anyone regaining sight.

Comments welcome.

Source: Retrosense Therapeutics

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by neuroticcamel

Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

  • Bharat Kumar Gupta

    that sounds cool, i hope such technology becomes affordable to people in my country too, i think we could really use some help here, & this is why i love technology! i pray to god may this advancement reaches to people who need it the most.

  • m/x //ythic

    Touch User Interface (TUI) has a shelf life though. Coming up is Thought User Interface. That will be one solution for the dude that can’t work his iPad. Of course the other solution would be nano/bio tech solutions which will probably be around by then

  • Matthew Lee Crane

    it could help my girlfriend

  • Troy Barboza

    It makes a different in a persons life with capability to see. And enjoy the beautiful world.

  • Cosdis

    I hope it really works. I know some people who are slightly blind.

  • Olga Mourad

    I hope this eventually leads to full recovery! Amazing what scientists can do.

  • Fereli

    Like Chris, I am also fascinated by this developing technology and want to learn more about it and all about how it works. If it really works.

  • Jesse Downing

    This is awesome! I wonder if it could also help people that aren’t blind but just can’t see very well. Now that I think about it, I don’t remember anyone but Cogswell on the Jetsons wearing glasses, and he and Spacely are cheapskates anyways.

  • Kyle Christopher Slingo

    It’s amazing what science and technogy can do

  • lylejk

    Wow; fantastic news if this one pans out. Thanks for sharing the story with us Ron. :)

  • Curtis Coburn

    It’s amazing what science can do. I wonder what’s next… Replacing full working limbs, curing Cancer? Science is great, and so many people can be affected by it.