For the First Time, Optogenetic Therapy Partially Restores Patient’s Vision


Optogenetic therapy, or manipulating proteins and cells with light, is an advanced technology developed in the early 2000s that drove major discoveries about the inner workings of our brains. Yet, while actively researched in experimental animals, functional improvement using this method was never reported in humans—until now.

In a paper published today in Nature Medicine, scientists from Paris, Pittsburgh and Basel, Switzerland, reported the first-ever case of partial vision recovery in a blind patient after optogenetic therapy. The pioneering study describes the first time a patient has achieved partial functional recovery in any neurodegenerative disease by using optogenetic tools.

“I hope it will be a major breakthrough,” said first and corresponding author, José-Alain Sahel, chair of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh, director of the UPMC Eye Center and professor at Sorbonne University in France. “This paper is a culmination of more than 12 years of work, and I am very pleased to have contributed to this effort with Botond Roska in Basel and all my colleagues at Institut de la Vision in Paris.”

Watch the video and read the rest of the article at

Read more about Sahel’s vision for curing blindness in Pitt Med magazine.

And read coverage of the new paper in The New York Times and BBC.

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