According to foreign media reports,In a major breakthrough in regenerative medicine, scientists have used an emerging technology called optogenetics to restore part of the vision of blind people.This method injects genes encoding light-sensitive proteins into green algae in patients’ eyes. This is the first clinical application of this technique. This is the first time in decades that patients can detect and identify objects.
Some cells in the human body have proteins that make them particularly sensitive to light. By targeting these cells, scientists can use light to control their behavior. Optogenetics involves inserting genes into otherwise normal cells to give sensitivity to light. Then by stimulating these modified cells, scientists hope to develop a range of health conditions, from paralysis to pain relief. Treatment of the condition.
One of the most promising possibilities of this technique is to resolve progressive vision loss such as retinitis pigmentosa — it gradually destroys photoreceptor cells in the retina and eventually leads to blindness. Transplanting light-sensitive proteins into the retina through the use of optogenetics has long been considered as a solution to this visual deterioration, and scientists have also seen promising early results in experiments with mouse and chicken embryos. However, it has never been seen before in humans. To change this situation, an international research team conducted an important study, the subject of which was a Parisian who was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa 40 years ago. Scientists injected the patient’s weakest eye with a gene encoding a photoreceptor protein, called chrysnR. It has been reported that this protein is present in luminous algae, and upon exposure to light, it changes its shape and promotes ions inside and outside the cells.
This allows specific neurons on the ambiopic retina to produce ChrysMNR proteins, which can effectively transform into new photoreceptor cells. The goal of the research team is ganglion cells, as they are collecting light signals from photoreceptor cells and transmitting them to the optic nerve in the brain, where they are converted to vision.
The optogenetics method proved to be an effective method to resolve vision loss, it completely avoids damaged photoreceptor cells. Modified ganglion cells are responsible for receiving light signals directly from objects, but this system can function normally only with the help of some external hardware.
A pair of special glasses equipped with a camera are used to record the environment. In addition, it also radiates the beam pulse directly onto the retina, where a new set of photoreceptor cells is located. Goggles convert the image to a single wavelength of light on the secure amber spectrum, allowing the CrisonR protein to change shape, open ion channels, detect and transmit light signals to the brain.
It is believed that scientists started vision training only after 4 months of protein injection to the patient. But 7 months after starting this training, the patient can use his or her vision to detect, identify, and even count objects.
Jose-Alain Sahel, the first author of the study’s paper, said, “It takes time to adapt to the use of glasses. After this training, he can recognize other objects, big and small.”
The latest finding represents the first case of partial vision restoration using optogenetics. The scope of application of this technique goes far beyond the scope of blindness. Scientists hope that one day optogenetics will be used to treat diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and depression. But for now, these promising results only make it a particularly promising short-term approach to the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa.
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