Dogs born blind from birth are now able to regain full vision, regardless of age. According to a recent publication in the Journal of Molecular Therapy, researchers at Michigan State University combined two therapies which reversed an inherited form of total color blindness in dogs, called Canine Achromatopsia. Although the study focused on dogs this novel therapy may prove effective in helping people regain vision who also suffer with this form of hereditary color blindness. According to veterinary ophthalmologist, Andras Komáromy, DVM, Gene therapy only works if the cells in the eye that process daylight and color are not totally degenerated.
Therefore they used a protein called CNTF to selectively destroy the eye’s light sensitive cells, which vets call photoreceptor cells.
At the proper dose, its similar to pruning flowers, the protein partially destroys the cells but at the same time it allows for new growth.
Gene therapy follows the protein injection and replaces the mutant gene associated with the dog’s blindness.
The results have been overwhelmingly successful. All seven dogs in the study regained full vision.
Dr. Komáromy, an associate professor in Michigan States Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, was amazed at their success.
Although Achromatopsia is a somewhat rare condition, it’s a good model disease for other ocular disorders affecting the photoreceptor cells of the eye, which detect color.
These photoreceptor eye disorders, on the other hand do constitute a major cause of incurable blindness in dogs and humans.
Because of the tremendous success of this new blindness therapy, new treatment concepts are currently being investigated for Retinal Disorders causing blindness in pets and people.