Can Gene Therapy Cure Color Blindness?

September 22, 2009

Two naturally color-blind monkeys acquired color vision after gene therapy. This goes against common belief that adults cannot obtain color vision that they never had before.

The researchers at the University of Washington have pinpointed the missing or defective gene responsible for the condition and developed a working virus vector to carry a functional copy of it. This virus was injected into the monkey’s eyes. After about 20 weeks, the monkeys had full color vision and have had no harmful effects. The color vision is not quite up to the level of monkeys that were not color blind at birth but the scientists feel like this might be due more to the humans involved in the study.

The researchers hope to soon be able to translate the findings into clinical trials to test safety and efficacy in humans.

The study was published online in Nature (log in required).

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