Mice Regain Sight During Blindness Study

Reviewed: May 09, 2013
By eHealthIQ

Of Mice and Men chronicles the heartrending story of two migrant workers during the late 1930s. The mice in a recent University of California-Berkeley blindness study had a happier outcome than the mice in the novella. According to the authors, the results are promising for humans as well.Published in the July 26 issue of Neuron, the study evaluated the effects of a compound known as AAQ in the treatment of degenerative blindness. The genetically modified mice in the study lost the rods and cones in their retinas within months of birth. Age-related changes and a genetic disorder that damage these photoreceptors are the most prevalent reasons for blindness in humans.Prior to treatment, the animals’ pupils failed to respond to light. The researchers injected the compound into the animals’ eyes. When exposed to bright light, their pupils constricted and the mice attempted to avoid the stimulus. These signs indicated that the compound enabled the mice to see the light.AAQ acts as a photoswitch. The compound engages potassium ion channels on the photoreceptor cells in the retina. Light exposure causes the compound to alter the flow of ions, which stimulates the nerve cells. The compound made the damaged photoreceptor cells sensitive to light.There are numerous therapies used to restore sight to people with damaged retina. They include retina cells derived from stem cells, artificial retinas, light-sensitive compounds and an assortment of electronic devices. The advantage of the experimental compound is that it doesn’t require the use of controversial or expensive therapies, such as stem cells or viral vectors. One disadvantage of the compound is that the effects disappear within days after the injection. The researchers note that the short-term effect may be beneficial because the compound doesn’t cause permanent changes to the eyes.Source: International Business Timeshttp://www.ibtimes.com/articles/366818/20120725/mice-blind-see-vision-restored-aaq-retina.htm

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