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New gene therapy could treat blindness

New gene therapy could treat blindness
24th January 2012

Researchers have developed a new gene therapy that has the potential to act as a treatment for a common form of blindness.

X-linked retinitis pigmentosa could be combated by replacing a malfunctioning gene in the eye with a normal working copy that supplies a protein necessary for light-sensitive cells in the eye to function, according to a study at the University of Florida.

Although several costly steps need to be taken before the therapy can be used in humans, once commercially available it could potentially change the lives of millions.

Dr William W Hauswirth, study co-author, commented: "Imagine that you can't see or can just barely see, and that could be changed to function at some levels so that you could read, navigate, maybe even drive — it would change your life considerably."

A similar therapy is already being used in the United States to treat macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness.

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