Published April 19, 2012
Scientists were able to restore partial sight to mice with night blindness – raising hopes of treatment for hundreds of thousands of people with eye conditions such as macular degeneration, the most common form of blindness.
The “landmark” study from University College London is the first to restore sight through the use of nerve cells that were sensitive to light.
The researchers took immature versions of the nerve cells – called rod-photoreceptors – from the eyes of healthy newborn mice and injected them into mice that could not see in the dark. After some of the cells formed nerve connections, the mice were able to navigate a maze in dim lighting.
However, the researchers said that while their findings are “groundbreaking,” the first human clinical trials could be a long way off – up to five to 10 years.