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Seeing the Light

Scientists have partially restored the vision of a 58-year-old French man with retinitis pigmentosa with an experimental treatment called optogenetic therapy, as reported in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other news outlets, which cited a study published on Monday in Nature Medicine.

It is believed to be the first published report of the successful use of optogenetic therapy, in which genetic material is injected into the eye to spur the development of light-sensitive proteins in retinal cells.

As the Times reports, the man's vision was not completely restored — he had to wear special goggles that gave him a ghostly perception of objects in a narrow field of view — but the achievement is proof of concept for future similar treatments.

"Seeing for the first time that it did work — even if only in one patient and in one eye — is exciting," Ehud Isacoff, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study, told the Times.

The study's academic researchers worked with scientists from Paris-based company GenSight Biologics. Meanwhile, as the WSJ reported, a New York-based company called Bionic Sight recently announced that four blind people in an early-stage clinical trial are now able to detect light and motion after undergoing a similar treatment — results that have not yet been published.

The Scan

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