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Researchers Restore Vision to Blind Mice

posted: 05/07/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Wild mouse sitting on hind legs
CreativeNature_nl/thinkstock

Scientists from two European universities have made significant strides in treating blindness. In a new study, mice suffering from hereditary blindness successfully had their vision restored and were able to respond to visual stimuli.

Hereditary blindness is caused by the gradual degeneration of photoreceptors, cells in the eyes that sense light. Researchers from Switzerland's University of Bern and Germany's Gottingen modified the cells that normally receive chemical stimuli from the defunct photoreceptors. Instead, the cells now receive direct light stimuli, creating "replacement photoreceptors".

"The new therapy can potentially restore sight in patients suffering from any kind of photoreceptor degeneration," study corresponding author Sonja Kleinlogel explains.

Clinical testing of the so-called molecular light switch therapy in humans is still three years away. Researchers, however, are optimistic that this study could have far-reaching implications in treating other conditions, such as clinical depression and epilepsy.

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