Partial recovery of visual function in a blind patient after optogenetic therapy

Partial recovery of visual function in a blind patient after optogenetic therapy using light sensing proteins, first found in algae.

This is the first reported case of partial functional recovery in neurodegenerative disease retinitis pigmentosa after optogenetic therapy.

Study published in Nature Medicine 24 May 2021

Optogenetics may enable mutation-independent, circuit-specific restoration of neuronal function in neurological diseases. Retinitis pigmentosa is a neurodegenerative eye disease where loss of photoreceptors can lead to complete blindness. In a blind patient, we combined intraocular injection of an adeno-associated viral vector encoding ChrimsonR with light stimulation via engineered goggles. The goggles detect local changes in light intensity and project corresponding light pulses onto the retina in real time to activate optogenetically transduced retinal ganglion cells. The patient perceived, located, counted and touched different objects using the vector-treated eye alone while wearing the goggles. During visual perception, multichannel electroencephalographic recordings revealed object-related activity above the visual cortex. The patient could not visually detect any objects before injection with or without the goggles or after injection without the goggles.

Read the full article in Nature here

Read an additional article on BBC news here

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image shows subject of this medical trial testing their new sensitivity to light in a lab