Friday, January 17, 2014

Gene Therapy Tested as a Way to Stop Blindnes

By delivering gene therapies to patients before they go blind, doctors may be able to prevent the loss of many important light-detecting cells.
The condition addressed in the work is choroideremia, an eye disease that affects an estimated one in every 50,000 people. Because the gene that causes this disease is on the X chromosome, it primarily affects males. Starting in late childhood usually, the condition causes progressive narrowing or tunneling of vision and often ends in blindness. The condition gradually wipes out the light-detecting rods and cones in the retina.
The experimental treatment adds a working copy of the culpable gene to the retinal cells of patients born with a defective copy. The trial also involved an experimental way of delivering gene therapy to the eye. Each patient’s retina was first lifted, and the gene therapy was injected into the space created under the retina. MacLaren and colleagues report on the condition of six patients in a study published on Wednesday in the Lancet.

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