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Cells hope to restore sight

By John von Radowitz

A radical form of gene therapy that remodels eye cells into light receptors holds out the promise of restoring sight to people who are completely blind.

Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley have been able to create replacement photoreceptors from cells that do not normally react to light.

In early tests on blind rescue dogs with an inherited disease similar to the human condition retinitis pigmentosa (RP), scientists were able to restore enough light sensitivity for the animals to distinguish between flashing and non-flashing lights.

Blind mice given the same treatment became as good at navigating a water maze as normal mice.

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