Two Oklahoma Univ. Health Sciences Center researchers are part of a group of scientists who may have found a cure for a blinding disease in mice.
The disease, retinitis pigmentosa, affects the retina, or lining, of the eye. Retinitis pigmentosa decreases vision in those affected. Although it does not completely blind in most cases, it does greatly reduce the field of vision.
The disorder is genetic, said Muna Naash, a cell biology researcher at OU HSC.
To find a cure, the researchers studied mice who had the abnormal gene that causes the disease. They used three methods to test the affected mice, according to the lab report.
The first and most effective method involved using nanoparticles to deliver the normal gene. Nanoparticles work together as a group to deliver or transport the gene. In this group of mice, scientists found hints of healing and reduced blindness.
An international research team led by Columbia University Medical Center successfully used mouse embryonic stem cells to replace diseased retinal cells and restore sight in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa. This strategy could potentially become a new treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, a leading cause of blindness that affects approximately one in 3,000 to 4,000 people, or 1.5 million people worldwide. The study appears online ahead of print in the journal Transplantation (March 27, 2010 print issue).