"Stage is set" for blindness treatments

"Stage is set" for blindness treatments

The stage is set for the development of new treatments for inherited blindness, according to one expert.

Veterinary vision scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have successfully used a viral vector in targeting a class of photoreceptors of the retina called rods.

According to the experts, this could be a "critical first step" in developing gene therapies for inherited blindness caused by rod degeneration.

William Beltran, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Penn"s School of Veterinary Medicine and director of the study, said that pieces of DNA can "turn on" the production of the green fluorescent protein in rods in dogs.

"The next step is to target common rod degenerations using canine models that mimic the human diseases. The delivery of a viral vector, coupled with a rod-specific promoter is likely to be the safest and most efficient approach," he said.

Recently, Andreas Komaromy, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Penn School of Veterinary Medicine, revealed that gene therapy has been used to restore retinal cone function and day vision in two canine models of congenital achromatopsia, also known as total colour blindness.

by Emily Tait

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