Yvonne Carts-Powell

Color blindness corrected by gene therapy : Nature News

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2009 at 5:39 pm

In fiction, genetic manipulation of some sort is the source of superpowers on Heroes. In fact, gene therapy might be able to address medical ills that drug-based medicine can’t touch. A very exciting new study describes an animal study that enhanced the vision of monkeys.

The researchers targeted a specific gene expression: the ability to see green  and red, in monkeys that have been color-blind since birth. After a virus carrying the gene was injected behind the monkeys’ retinas,  the monkeys developed — and so far have kept — the ability to distinguish colors.

Three human gene therapy trials are currently under way for loss of sight due to serious degeneration of the retina. These safety studies also  involve injecting a gene-carrying virus  behind the retina. The people treated have shown no serious adverse effects more than a year after, with some participants reporting marked improvements in vision.

Read more about it in the Nature news story: Color blindness corrected by gene therapy.

[Edited to add: Gisela Telis at ScienceNOW also covers the story, and her article includes a video of the monkeys: Gene Therapy Gives Monkeys Color Vision — Telis 2009 (916): 1 — ScienceNOW.]

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