New study offers hope to retinal degeneration sufferers

New study offers hope to retinal degeneration sufferers

A breakthrough study has shown that non-viral gene therapy can delay the onset of some forms of eye disease and preserve vision.

The research, carried out by experts at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts, has brought them closer to a non-viral gene therapy treatment for degenerative eye disorders.

Senior author Dr Rajendra Kumar-Singh, associate professor of ophthalmology at the facility, said it is possible to attain therapeutic results using non-viral gene delivery methods, specifically nanoparticles which are small enough to penetrate cells and stable enough to protect DNA, while capable of preventing retinal cell death and preserving vision.

He explained: "The next step in this research is to prolong this protection by adding elements to the DNA that permit its retention in the cell. Bringing forth a more potent and enduring result will move us closer to clinical application of non-viral gene therapy."

It comes after specialists at the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Boston revealed that the "easy accessibility of the eye" and the established link between specific genetic defects and ocular disorders may offer hope for using gene therapy to provide long-term benefits. 

by Martin Burns

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