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Gene therapy is not a new concept; scientists have worked tirelessly over the years to try and identify genes that encode particular diseases, with a view to designing therapies that could, one day, eradicate certain debilitating or even fatal conditions.
Ophthalmology is no different, however, the subject of gene therapy has been gaining more and more press attention recently, indicating that this form of treatment may become a reality sooner than we realise.
Last year saw the first gene therapy trial for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to be conducted at Oregon Health & Science University in the US. The multicenter phase I clinical trial revealed that injecting the pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) gene directly into the eye to inhibit blood vessel growth was safe and well tolerated, and it may be able to halt the progression of wet AMD.
Many scientists around the world continue to make new discoveries that, one day, could revolutionize the way ophthalmic conditions are treated and change the lives of people afflicted by some of these disabling diseases. This really is an exciting time and, who knows, finding the cure for some blinding diseases may not be such a far-fetched concept after all.