The number of people suffering from total blindness can triple by 2050 worldwide, according to a study published in the medical journal Lancet Global Health . Currently there are 36 million blind people in the world, but due to the aging population the figure could reach 115 million .
However, it seems that we are one step closer to the cure of blindness.
We can already say that it is possible to use gene therapy to reprogram cells and reverse serious vision problems, including blindness. At least that is what has been achieved experimentally with mice a group of researchers from the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Oxford University.
Scientists monitored for more than a year mice, affected by retinitis pigmentosa, the most common cause of blindness in young people.
The treatment would be applied to patients with deterioration of the retina, the inner layer of the eye where the photoreceptors are located, using a virus modified as a vector so that the cells of the retina of the laboratory animals, suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, expressed a protein called melanopsin, light sensitive .
Twelve months later mice were able to recognize objects in their environment which, according to the researchers, indicated that they had a high level of visual perception.
The next step, as the research leader points out, Samantha de Silva will be to evaluate this technique with clinical trials in human patients. As he explains:
There are many patients with blindness in our hospitals. The possibility of returning some light to your vision with a relatively simple genetic procedure is very encouraging.