Los Angeles, June 13 (IANS) Scientists in the US have engineered a virus that inserts genes into the eyes as a way of restoring sight in those afflicted by diseases that cause blinding, a new study says.
Unlike current treatments, the new procedure is quick and surgically non-invasive, and it delivers normal genes to hard-to-reach cells throughout the entire retina, reports Science Daily.
Over the last six years, several groups have successfully treated people with a rare inherited eye disease by injecting a virus with a normal gene directly into the retina of an eye with a defective gene. Despite the invasive process, the virus with the normal gene was not capable of reaching all the retinal cells that needed fixing.
"Building upon 14 years of research, we have now created a virus that you just inject into the liquid vitreous humor inside the eye, and it delivers genes to a very difficult-to-reach population of delicate cells in a way that is surgically non-invasive and safe. It's a 15-minute procedure, and you can likely go home that day," said David Schaffer, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and director of the Berkeley Stem Cell Centre at the University of California, Berkeley.