Scientists have made a breakthrough in finding a cure for degenerative vision diseases that can result in terminal blindness.
The solution to cure blindness, however, may be rooted in an unconventional therapeutic approach.
Scientists at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland, are manipulating the proteins that cause blindness in mice. The scientists have successfully restored vision in the light-sensing cells of the retina.
Dr. Thomas McKenna, program officer for ONR's Neural Computation Program, said this research has significant future implications.In the course of their study, these researchers discovered an approach to restore vision in blind mice with congenital macular degeneration," McKenna said.
"This technology shows great promise for the partial restoration of vision for blind patients," she added.
The research studies Retinitis Pigmentosa, the incurable genetic eye disease, which causes more than 2 million worldwide cases of tunnel vision and night blindness. If left untreated, the disease can lead to complete blindness as the color-sensing cells in the retina slowly degenerate.
The initiative was supported by Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global's Naval International Cooperative Opportunities in Science and Technology Program (NICOP).
"The NICOP grants are of a seedling nature and are aimed at maturing foreign science and technology projects to the point that they can be picked up by ONR," Dr. Clay Stewart, technical director, ONR Global, said.
"In the case at hand, this world-class cognitive research team has developed science that has the potential of being useful in restoration of visual acuity in subjects with impaired vision, such as Sailors or Marines who have sustained head injuries in combat," he added.