How the use of optogenetics can restore vision to the visually impaired

Seeing is not, as the proverb goes, merely believing, rather it is a literal window to the world. Losing our eye-sight means a major loss of personal freedom and, in most cases, implies an irreversible condition. While there have been various attempts to restore vision to humans, science still has a long way to go. José-Alain Sahel is a Distinguished Professor and Chairman at the University of Pittsburgh and founder of one of the most important European research centres on eye diseases – the Institut de la Vision, in Paris. After successful restoration of visual function in animal models of retinal degeneration, Jóse-Alain conceived the first human clinical trial combining a biotherapy with a stimulation device. He observed the first clinical evidence for vision restoration using optogenetics (a technique that involves the use of light to control neurons in living tissue). At Falling Walls, Jóse-Alain will talk about what it means to see and elaborate on one patient’s journey from having sight, losing it and slowly regaining it after 20 years. He will share insights on the process that involves an innovative use of gene therapy, stimulating goggles and lots of training.

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