People with congenital fixed night blindness (CSNB) cannot distinguish objects in low light conditions, and this impairment presents challenges, especially when artificial lighting is not available or when driving at night.
And in 2015, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine discovered that dogs can develop a form of hereditary night blindness with strong similarities to the condition in humans, and in 2019, the team identified the gene responsible.
Today, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report a breakthrough in a gene therapy that restores night vision in dogs born night blind.
The success of this approach, which targets a group of cells deep in the retina called bipolar cells, marks an important step toward the goal of developing a treatment for dogs and people with this condition, as well as other vision-related problems. optic neuritis.
Dogs with night blindness who received a single injection of the gene therapy began to express the healthy LRIT3 protein in their retinas and were able to navigate a maze of dim light. The effect of the treatment lasted a year or more.
“The results of this pilot study are very promising and may benefit people and dogs with congenital fixed night blindness, and the severity of the disease is constant and does not change throughout their lives, and we were able to treat dogs as adults, ranging At the age of 1 to 3 years, this makes these findings so promising and relevant to the human patient population that we could theoretically intervene even in adulthood and see an improvement in night vision.”