Research Could Lead To New Treatments for Blindness

Armen Hareyan's picture

Visual Loss and Blindness Treatment

Scientists have discovered how to make cells sensitive to light in what may lead to a new approach to treating certain forms of blindness.

The research, published in the science journal Nature, shows that a gene called melanopsin causes nerve cells to become photoreceptive.

The team of experts from The University of Manchester and Imperial College London found that activating melanopsin in cells that don't normally use the gene makes them sensitive to light.


"The melanopsin made the cells photoreceptive which tells us that this protein is able to absorb light," said Dr Rob Lucas, who led the team in Manchester.

"This discovery might provide food for thought for scientists looking for ways of treating visual loss."

Dr Lucas, whose research concerns the effect light has on our daily rhythms, said the classical view of how the eye sees is through photoreceptive cells in the retina called rods and cones.