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Gene Therapy Might Be Helpful In Treating Rare Form Of Blindness

Update Date: Jan 16, 2014 11:44 AM EST

A preliminary study in which gene therapy was used to treat a rare from of blindness is might prove promising. According to researchers, results obtained might trigger similar efforts for other causes of vision loss.

The study, that was designed mainly to test the treatment's safety instead its effectiveness, included six patients. Out of the total participating, two have reported of a dramatic improvements in their vision without any serious side effects. 

Gene therapy is a process of inserting copies of a normal gene into a patient who has a faulty or missing gene. In past the technique was utilized to treat the rare type of blindness without any remarkable success. 

All the six patients in the trial were suffering with choroidermia which is an inherited and untreatable form of progressive blindness. The disease is a consequence of the protein deficiency that kills light detecting eye cells. 

"We're trying to rescue cells that would otherwise have died," said Dr. Robert MacLaren of the University of Oxford, who led the research, according to Fox News.  

Researchers injected a harmless virus carrying the missing protein into the thinnest part of the patient's retinas. 

Dr. Ian MacDonald, chairman of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Alberta in Canada is planning a similar trial found the study "very promising because there is really no other way to deliver this protein," reported Fox News.

"We can do as much work as we can in the laboratory and try to sort out all the variables, but there are always surprises," said Dr. Jean Bennett of the University of Pennsylvania, according to Fox News. She has conducted earlier works on different eye disease. 

The findings of the research is published online in the journal Lancet

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