Blind Dogs Give Hope For Restoring Sight In Humans
This article from ZDNet is fairly technical but the basics are that French researchers have found a way to restore some dogs’ sight.
Genetic therapy restores sight in dogs
Posted by Roland Piquepaille
A team of French researchers has used a new genetic therapy to give back the sense of vision to several blind dogs affected by a rare genetic condition known as Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis. This genetic condition, which affects between 1,000 and 2,000 children in France alone, leads to blindness shortly after birth. In this Inserm news release (PDF format, in French), you’ll discover how the scientists managed to restore sight for 7 of the 8 dogs they’ve treated. Now, they envision clinical trials on humans, but not before several years.
As I’m not specialized in genetics, I just want to give you some short facts about the Leber’s condition. It is known that it is caused by mutations affecting eight genes, including the RPE65 one RPE meaning Retinal Pigment Epithelium.
According to what I’ve read, this RPE65 gene codes a protein which carries the same name, and which plays a critical role in retinoid processing and in the synthesis of rhodopsine. The French team has injected a ‘promoter’ of this deficient gene inside the cells of the retinal pigment epithelium to eight dogs affected by the Leber’s condition. And seven of these dogs have recovered their sight.