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Gene therapy initially "will stop" the most common cause of blindness



  Janet Osborne

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Fergus Walsh

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Janet Osbourne hopes to continue gardening if her loss of vision is suspended

A woman from Oxford was the first person in the world to receive gene therapy to try to stop the most common form of blindness in the western world.

Surgeons introduced a synthetic gene in the back of Janet Osbourne's eye. A bet on preventing the death of more cells.

This is the first treatment aimed at the genetic cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

About 600,000 people in the UK suffer from AMD, most of which have severe vision impairment

Janet Osbourne told BBC News: "It's difficult to recognize my face with my left eye because my central vision is blurred ̵

1; and if it's treatment can stop this deterioration, it will be weird. "

The treatment was conducted under local anesthesia last month at the Oxford Eye Hospital Robert McLaren, a professor of ophthalmology at Oxford University. who will otherwise lose sight of it, this will be a huge breakthrough in ophthalmology and, of course, what I hope to see in the near future. "

80-year-old Ms. Osborne is the first of 10 patients who participated in the study of the AMD gene

What is AMD?

Macula is part of the retina and is responsible for the central vision and small details.

The risk of getting AMD grows with age

Most victims, including all those on this trial, have what is known as dry AMD, where the reduction of visibility is gradual and can last many years. Wet AMD may develop suddenly and lead to fast

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Fergus Walsh

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Professor Robert McLaren introducing gene therapy in the left eye of Janet Osborne

How does gene therapy work?

Since some people are getting older, the genes responsible for natural eye protection begin to disrupt the work and begin to destroy the cells in the macula, which leads to loss of vision.

This is done on the back of the eye, which provides a harmless virus. containing a synthetic gene.

The virus infects retinal cells and releases the gene.

This makes it possible for the eye to make a protein that is designed to stop cells from dying and thus keep the macula healthy.

An early-stage study, at the Oxford Eye Hospital, is designed primarily to test the safety of the procedure and is performed in patients who have already lost a certain vision.

In the case of success, the goal would be to treat patients before they have lost any sight to stop AMD on their way.

This will have serious consequences for

It is too early to know if Miss Osborne's loss of vision is suspended in the left eye, but everyone who is in court will be watching her eyesight

. : "I still enjoy gardening with my husband Nick, who grows a lot of vegetables."

"If I can continue to peel and cut vegetables and keep my current level of independence, that would be absolutely wonderful. "

There is already a successful treatment of gene therapy for another rare e.

In 2016, the same team in Oxford showed that one another could improve the vision of patients with glomeruli who otherwise would be blinded.

And last year, doctors at the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London restored the appearance of two AMD patients by implantation of the stem cell area over the damaged area on the back of the eye

. Stem cell therapy can help many people who have already lost sight. [19659007] But the test in Oxford is different that it is aimed at overcoming the underlying genetic cause of AMD and can be effective in stopping the disease before people are blinded.

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