Sight loss is one of the most difficult disabilities to overcome, but experts are saying that they may have a cure through gene therapy.
BBC News reports on gene therapy.
Can gene therapy help cure blindness? A new study says that it can have important benefits.
The new study tested whether a genetic therapy could help improve the sight of patients who would have otherwise gone blind. The study had successful results with its participants.
The study was conducted by a group of British scientists.
The trial showed that the treatment was indeed long lasting; therefore the gene therapy is suitable to be offered as a treatment.
The results have been published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
“The therapy involves injecting working copy of the gene into the back of the eyes to help cells regenerate,” according to BBC News.
The team is leading the gene therapy study out of Oxford University. The scientists have helped treat patients suffering from choroideremia. The disease affects young men whose light detecting cells in the back of their eyes are dying. The disease is brought on through a faulty inherited gene.
The new gene therapy is the first treatment to ever work on patients with choroideremia. Until now no treatment has been helpful and these patients eventually go blind.
BBC explains, “The researchers found that not only does the treatment halt the disease, it revives some of the dying cells and improves the patient's vision, in some cases markedly.”
One of the patients who tried the new gene therapy, Joe, is a twenty-four year old history teacher who had started experiencing vision loss when he was sixteen. He said that by the time he was eighteen his sight had deteriorated so much that he could barely see.
Joe also said that he was afraid of not being able to continue to live the life that he was living and the life he planned to live. He further explained the difficulties he was facing until he had the surgery. Every year his sight would worsen and he would have to give up one more thing in his life.
Joe started to see a major improvement in his sight soon after his operation. He could suddenly see things that he could never see before- all of the letters on an eye chart, flowers in a garden, and much more. He said he feels as if he has been given another chance to live life to the fullest.