A collaboration between scientists in the UK and the USA has shown that gene therapy can give life-long protection to the light-sensitive photoreceptor cells responsible for colour vision in a mouse model of the most common inherited eye disorder. These findings are significant because they open up a new line of research to prevent nerve cell death in retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.
“Our results in this mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa clearly show that CNTF treatment can both give life-long protection to cone photoreceptors and preserve useful vision. While there remains a lot to understand, for example on the role of rods in cone preservation and translation to human retinal anatomy, this is a very promising study,” said MacLaren, Professor of Ophthalmology at the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology.
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