Gene therapy technique found to prevent blindness
- 16 Jan
A gene therapy technique has been used by Surgeons in Oxford to improve the vision of six patients, who would have gone blind if they hadn't had it.
The operation involves inserting a gene into the eye cells which is a treatment which revived light-detecting cells. The doctors involved in the surgery believe that the treatment could be used to treat common forms of blindness in time.
Leader of the research, Professor Robert MacLaren said he was "absolutely delighted" at the outcome. "We really couldn't have asked for a better result," he said.
The BBC reported on the start of the trail two years ago when the first patient, Jonathan Wyatt, was 63. Mr Wyatt's genetic condition, choroidermia which means the light-detecting cells at the back of the eye are gradually dying.
When Mr Wyatt had the operation he was only just able to see and hoped that the procedure would stop further deterioration and save what little sight he had left. After the operation he found that not only was his vision stabilised it had also improved. He is now able to read three lines further down in an optician's sight chart.
Other subjects who were at earlier stages in their vision, experienced improvements in their ability to see at night.
"I felt that I had come to the edge of an abyss," said Mr Wyatt. "I looked down at total blackness. Professor MacLaren tapped me on the shoulder and said 'come this way, it's possible to see again'."
Wayne Thomson, another patient said: "My colour vision improved. Trees and flowers seemed much more vivid and I was able to see stars for the first time since I was 17 when my vision began to deteriorate. I've lived the last 25 years with the certainty that I am going to go blind and now (after the operation) there is the possibility that I will hang on to my sight."
If these improvements continue to be seen in patients the offer of treatment will be made available to younger choroideremia patients to prevent them from losing their sight.
Professor MacLaren believes that success with choroideremia demonstrates the principle that gene therapy could be used to cure other forms of genetic blindness including age-related macular degeneration.
"The mechanisms of choroideremia and what we are trying to do with the treatment would broadly be applicable to more common causes of blindness," he explained."Choroideremia shows some similarities with macular degeneration in that we are targeting the same cells. We don't yet know which genes to target for macular degeneration but we do know now how to do it and how to put the genes back in."
What do you think of this? Tweet us your comments @suppsolutions
Image source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1399686
- 10 Aug
New social enterprise to help adults with vulnerabilities
Aspire Community Benefit Society is taking over the council’s Learning Disability Service for a five year contract, reports the Yorkshire Evening Post.This new model will see the Learning...
- 30 Jul
New app hopes to bring smarter housing for social landlords
The ZONR app combines the latest intelligent sensor technology, smart data transmission and decision engine analytics to centrally monitor and support heating systems across social landlord’s...
- 05 May
New model of care homes in Wakefield to go ahead
WDH's vision was being able to help people live longer, healthier lives and see support by co-ordinated services delivered as close to their homes as possible under the banner of ‘Connecting Care',...
- 29 Dec
App to support young people with autism with social interactions
This new app launched by Samsung aims to help treat the inability to make eye contact. The app, called Look at Me, has been developed with Seoul National University Bundang Hospital and Yonsei...
- 27 Oct
3D maps could help people with visual impairments navigate cities
The official mapping body for Japan GSI have already developed paper maps for those with visual impairments using embossed surfaces to mark out roads, and is now planning a programme which will do...
- 21 Oct
A paralysed man has been able to walk again following cell transplant
Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down following a knife attack in 2010, is now able to walk using a frame, reports the BBC. The treatment is a world first and was carried out by...
- 08 Jul
Breakthrough blood test for Alzheimer's cure
An international collaboration led by scientists from King's College London and Proteome Sciences has published a study identifying a set of ten proteins in the blood. This test will then predict the...
- 04 Jul
Trials for Alzheimer's disease is declining
US scientists have said there is an urgent need to increase the number of potential therapies being investigated. They say that only one new medicine has been approved since 2004, reports the BBC.The...
- 02 May
Study into the possibility of delaying the onset of dementia
One third of a million adults in the UK are taking part in a trial, funded by the Medical Research Council to try to predict what factors increases the risk of a person developing dementia.Each of...
- 10 Mar
Scientists believe a blood test could detect the early signs of Alzheimer's
Researchers have found that changes in the blood may signify Alzheimer's disease in its earliest stages. The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, has identified ten molecules in blood...
Responding to the DWP Consultation: Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "I found the event informative and timely it helped me to complete our response to DWP without which I would have struggled." S.S. - Safe House