A 58-year-old blind man who lost his ability to see due to an inherited degenerative disease has partially regained his sight thanks to innovative technology that combines gene therapy and photostimulation.
The writer says Anissa Hammadi To the report published by the newspaper “Le Parisien” (from the Parisien est) Franco This man could only recognize the presence of light; A degenerative disease gradually plunged him into a world without shapes and colors. Read alsoFrom military code to blind schools … this is how Braille was inventedA scientific achievement … a new microscope can see through the bones of the skullDiapositive Neuralink … does Musk plan to occupy the human brain? Watch how a cobra coughs up its painful toxins that can make you blind
But optogenetics – an innovative technique that combines gene therapy and photostimulation – has allowed humans to partially restore their sight. He is now able to locate and touch objects thanks to the special glasses designed for this purpose.
This is the first time that this technique has led to a partial restoration of visual function, say the researchers behind the clinical trial which included teams from France, Switzerland and the United States.
This patient had retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited eye disease that destroys photoreceptor cells in the retina, leading to progressive loss of vision that usually progresses to blindness.
And in order to restore its sensitivity to light; The patient was injected with a gene called “Crimson R,” which detects amber light, according to the study, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine.
Signs of improvement within 6 months
The author shows that thanks to the exercises, “and after 7 months, the patient began to report signs of visual improvement”, according to the Institute of Vision and the Parisian hospital “15-20” specialized in ophthalmology.
The two French organizations conducted this clinical trial jointly with the University of Pittsburgh, the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology in Basel, Switzerland, Streetlab and Gensite.
The participating institutions indicated that “if optogenetics – the technology that has already existed for 20 years – has revolutionized basic research in neuroscience (…), this is the first time internationally that this innovative approach has been used on the man and is done. Proving its benefits in clinical trials. “
According to the European “Orphanet” database, retinitis pigmentosa affects one in 3000 and 500 people, and it can appear at any age, with a greater possibility of onset between the ages of ten and 30.< / p>
Treatment won’t be available anytime soon
The author indicated that Professor José Alain Sahl – founder of the Institute of vision dedicated to retinal diseases in 2009 – explains that “blind people who suffer from different types of photoreceptor neurodegenerative diseases” – while maintaining the “functional optic nerve” – are going to be “eligible for treatment, but the problem is.” It will be some time before this treatment can be offered.
The company “Gensite Biology” – specialized in gene therapies for neurodegenerative diseases of the retina – intends to “soon launch a third phase of the trial to confirm the effectiveness of this therapeutic approach”.
In 2015, a British woman who had suffered from retinitis pigmentosa and had lost her sight for over 16 years regained her sight thanks to the bionic eye. And by the end of 2020, scientists had designed and tested a brain implant in monkeys that would allow them to perceive artificial shapes.
They hope to test this system in humans within 3 years, despite many obstacles. The electrodes used will work for about a year before growing tissue around them damages them. The ideal solution would be a wireless solution. In the current version, the implant is attached to the back of the skull.
In addition, this future prosthesis will only be effective in people who have lost their sight due to an illness or an accident, and not in those who are blind from birth.