Correcting Congenital Night Blindness in Dogs; Gene Therapy Approach May Also Have Application to Similar Night Blindness In Humans

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and colleagues have developed a gene therapy that restores dim-light vision in dogs with a congenital form of night blindness, offering hope for treating a similar condition in people. People with congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB) are unable to distinguish objects in dim-light conditions. This impairment presents challenges, especially where artificial lighting is unavailable or when driving at night. In 2015, researchers from Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine learned that dogs could develop a form of inherited night blindness with strong similarities to the condition in people. In 2019, the team identified the gene responsible. Today (March 22, 2022), in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Penn team and colleagues reported a major advance: a gene therapy that returns night vision to dogs born with CSNB. The success of this approach, which targets a group of cells deep in the retina called ON bipolar cells, charts a significant step toward a goal of developing a treatment for both dogs and people with this condition, as well as other vision problems that involve ON bipolar cell function. Theopen-access article is titled "Targeting ON-Bipolar Cells by AAV Gene Therapy Stably Reverses LRIT3-Congenital Stationary Night Blindness."

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