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.

Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600696/in-first-human-test-of-optogenetics-doctors-aim-to-restore-sight-to-the-blind/

Creating biofuels from toxic mining waste

Inhabitat covers a UK initiative that will attempt to use algae to turn toxic waste from disused mines into biofuel and raw materials for electronics manufacturing.

According to Inhabitat, “…the researchers hope that the heavy metals extracted during this process can be recycled for use in the electronics industry, while the solid waste left over can be turned into biofuels.”

Source: Inhabitat