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Experimental gene therapy used to halt most common cause of blindness in older people

21/02/2019

Experimental gene therapy used to halt most common cause of blindness in older people

A woman from Oxford in the UK has become the first person in the world to have gene therapy in an attempt to halt the most common type of blindness in the West.


Janet Osborne, aged 80, had a synthetic gene injected into the back of her eye in a bid to prevent more of her cells from dying.


It is thought that Mrs Osborne is the first person to receive such treatment to combat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which affects around 600,000 people in the UK alone.


Carried out under local anaesthetic, the procedure was carried out at Oxford Eye Hospital by Robert MacLaren, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Oxford.


Mrs Osborne is the first person of a 10-patient trial to receive the treatment, which is being conducted to check the safety of the procedure. All the trial participants have already lost some of their vision.


If the trial proves successful, the aim going forward would be to use the gene therapy to halt AMD in its tracks before a person’s sight is impacted.


Mrs Osborne and the rest of the trial participants will have their vision monitored to determine the effectiveness of the therapy.


Speaking to the BBC, Mrs Osborne said: “I find it difficult to recognise faces with my left eye because my central vision is blurred - and if this treatment could stop that getting worse, it would be amazing.”

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