June 30, 2000
Researchers restore sight in animal model
Researchers have restored lost vision in a mouse model of Leber congenital amaurosis by giving oral doses of a chemical compound derived from vitamin A. This type of blindness is caused by a group of retinal degenerative diseases that result in rapid loss of vision in infants and young children. The study was published in the July issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Krzysztof "Kris" Palczewski, UW professor of ophthalmology and chemistry; Samuel Jacobson of the Foundation Fighting Blindness Research Center at the Scheie Eye Institute of the University of Pennsylvania; J. Preston Van Hooser, UW research technologist in ophthalmology, and their colleagues orally administered doses of 9-cis-retinal to 8- to 12-week old mice with a form of Leber congenital amaurosis.
Using electroretinograms to measure visual function, the researchers found that treated mice experienced restored vision. Untreated mice of the same age had depressed electroretinogram readings and little vision.
"The findings are an amazing discovery that has great potential for young children robbed of their vision by similar diseases," said Steven Wilson, professor and chair of the UW Department of Ophthalmology.
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