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Blind Man Regains Sight After 40 With Photosensitive Protein Injection.

Regaining sight after 40 years of blindness: can you imagine what it means? This is exactly what happened to the 58-year-old man who took part in the first successful clinical trial which, through optogenetics, allowed a person to regain their sight after years and years.

A study that is talked about a lot because it showed the world the practical and successful application of an innovative technique. For this reason, it deserves further study and certainly lays the foundation for a future in which certain medical goals considered “impossible” will be increasingly achievable.

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image credit: Nature

The research and testing were carried out by the Paris-based company GenSight Biologics. To test its effectiveness, they selected patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease that gradually affects the photoreceptor cells of the eye, which are essential for vision. These elements detect light and send signals to the retina and therefore to the brain.

GenSight’s optogenetic therapy is part of this process. By skipping damaged photoreceptors, it provides a true “injection” of light-sensitive proteins that act directly in the retina, and therefore take the place of failing elements to detect light and images.

Using special glasses, the 58-year-old man was able to decipher the images, reflections, and changes in the light surrounding him. The proteins, activated and in phase with the retina and the brain, therefore worked. In order to see and interpret what was in front of him correctly, the patient needed a few months of “training” to get used to what was going on.

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image credit: ROTFLOLEB/Wikimedia

Until, amazingly, he was able to distinguish high contrast images, objects on a table, and white stripes on a dark background. According to scientists, his brain reacted to stimuli as if he had normal eyesight. Little by little, and with the help of glasses specially designed for this purpose, man and other patients regain their vision, becoming more and more used to photosensitive proteins.

“It’s a big step,” said John Flannery, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, “the most important thing is that it feels safe and permanent, which is really encouraging.” Of course, the eyesight obtained in patients using these proteins will never be as good and precise as natural eyesight, but it is certainly amazing that it can be recovered in subjects who otherwise would not see anything.

It is no coincidence that many companies in the sector and pharmaceutical companies are striving to develop and improve optogenetic technology more and more. The studies, in this direction, follow one another, and the hope is that this research can lead to concrete and positive results for many people suffering from disabling pathologies.

source used: Nature

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