Scientists experimented with eye therapy with unexpected results. Treating one eye unexpectedly improved vision in the other. That development is able to restore vision to thousands of patients with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy. But a unique feature is that the process of treating one eye affects the other. The treatment itself is a type of gene therapy.
A specially selected genetic material is introduced into the body. It counteracts defective and faulty genes. Observing 37 patients who received that treatment, the scientists found that gene modification in one eye was effective in both eyes at once.
It resulted in an average improvement of 15 letters on the standard chart. Neuro-ophthalmologist Patrick Yu-Wai-Man from the University of Cambridge says that the effect obtained was completely unexpected, no one expected that when treating one eye with a new method, the vision of the second eye would also improve.
To test whether this is actually the case, the researchers conducted another experiment where the eyes of patients who had not received gene therapy were subjected to sham treatments. But the eyesight did not improveg.
Those who were in the early stages of the new treatment usually saw very significant improvements in vision after treatment. The disease that the new method can cure is a very common form of mitochondrial blindness.
It is passed from mother to child and affects the retina and optic nerves. When the MT-24 gene is replaced, the cells of the retina of the eye are restored, and vision in patients is restored. The high efficiency of the method is observed in at least 20% of patients who have undergone therapy.