First Human Test Of Optogenetics Could Restore Sight

MIT Technology Review reports on the first trial of a procedure aiming to partially restore the sight of people with a degenerative eye condition – retinitis pigmentosa (where light-sensitive photoreceptor cells die, causing blindness).

The article explains that optogenetics is a “technology developed in neuroscience labs that uses a combination of gene therapy and light to precisely control nerve cells.” The trial aims to “engineer the DNA of different cells in the retina, called ganglion cells, so that they can respond to light instead, firing off signals to the brain.”

It is hoped that the approach could one day also be applied to conditions affecting the brain, including Parkinson’s.