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Hybrid chemical/genetic therapy restores light sensitivity to retina in blind mice and dogs

A new not only helped regain enough to distinguish flashing from non-flashing lights, but also restored light response to the retinas of dogs, setting the stage for future clinical trials of the therapy in humans.

[Light Response of Normal & Altered Mouse Retina]
In normal mice with working photoreceptors (PR driven), stimulating the retina produces a variety of responses in , the output of the eye. This can be seen in the colorful lower square, where measurements of the activity of different are shown in response to the same stimulation. This is because the retinal circuit mediates different operations. Photoswitches inserted into (RGC) of blind mice produce much less variety of response (all evenly red means the cells fire at the same time), while blind mice with photoswitches inserted into bipolar cells (ON-BC driven) exhibit much more variety in their retinal response to light, closer to that of normal mice. Future chemical/gene therapy should probably focus on bipolar cells in order to capture this retinal processing before signals are relayed to the brain.
Credit: Isacoff & Flannery/UC Berkeley and Beltran/PennVet


These tools are now the basis of new UC Berkeley projects recently funded by NIH and NSF through President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative.

University of California – Berkeley