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Optogenetics Therapy, the new Breakthrough

The guy, whose name was not disclosed, was treated with Optogenetics therapy, which uses algae proteins to regulate cells in the eyes, in a groundbreaking study published this week in the journal Nature Medicine. The guy, who lives in France, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa forty years ago. According to the National Institutes of Health, the rare genetic disease breaks down delicate photoreceptors, or light-sensing cells, in the retina and affects up to 1 in 4,000 people worldwide.

Since his photoreceptors degenerated and could no longer deliver visual input from the eyes to the brain, the 58-year-old has been blind for the past two decades. His sight had been partly recovered within a year of the groundbreaking trial. Traditionally used by neuroscientists, Optogenetics entails manipulating cells to make them light-sensitive. It was used to partly recover the man’s ability to sense light in one of his eyes in this situation.

The method is focused on algae proteins that shift in response to light sources. In the therapy, scientists injected these genes into the retina’s remaining functional ganglion cells, causing them to develop the light-sensitive protein ChrimsonR. The proteins could then react to light and send image signals to the brain once they were created. Researchers created a unique pair of goggles to capture and project images at amber light wavelengths because ChrimsonR proteins are sensitive to amber light.

Amber light is less harmful than blue-spectrum light, such as that emitted by mobile phones and computer monitors. The patient wore the goggles at home and on walks during the pandemic lockdown. He was taken aback after about seven months when he saw the stripes of a crosswalk. When the pandemic was at its lowest point over the summer, scientists were able to test him in a lab.

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