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Monday, April 28, 2008

Gene therapy test offers hope of sight to visually impaired patients

The Telegraph reports on how gene therapy helped visually impaired teenage student

Extract from the Telegraph:

"The treatment transformed the life of a severely visually impaired 18-year-old. Healthy genes were injected into one eye, leading to a significant improvement.

The technique could be ready for use within two years to treat people suffering from some inherited diseases of the retina, which affect 20,000 people in Britain.

Within five years it could be ready for testing on people who suffer age related macular degeneration, a condition that affects 500,000 Britons.

In the trial carried out by a team at the University College of London Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital, the world's first gene transplant for blindness produced an unprecedented improvement in Steven Howarth's sight.

The student suffered from a genetic mutation, called Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA), which usually begins affecting the sight of sufferers in early childhood and eventually causes total blindness during a patient's twenties or thirties."