Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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RPS Science Photographer of the Year competition 2020 Visible Tension

A pioneering sight-restoring procedure in action

02 April 2021

Visible Tension

Surgery can be challenging at the best of times, but this operation has an extra layer of tension. Colleagues watch closely as surgeon Professor Robert MacLaren carries out a pioneering procedure to inject gene therapy into the eye of a patient with an incurable form of blindness caused by a genetic fault. Genes correcting the problem are packaged into harmless viruses, which have to be delivered directly to the cells at the back of the eyeball. Gene therapy for sight loss is an area where incredible progress has been made in recent years, with the first commercial gene therapy, Luxturna, now available for patients in Europe and the US with a condition called Leber congenital amaurosis. Researchers are working on gene therapies for other sight loss conditions caused by faulty genes such as retinitis pigmentosa, which causes the light sensitive cells at the back of the eye to break down.

Written by Kat Arney

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