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Chemical rejuvenates "dead" retinal cells

Researchers have restored some vision to blind mice by using the chemical AAQ. The study was supported by the National Eye Institute and results were published in the online journal Neuron.The collaborative work of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, University of Munich and the University of Washington, Seattle, resulted in this discovery which will hopefully lead to helping people with retinitis pigmentosa, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In both AMD and retinitis pigmentosa, the rods and the cones in the eyes die which leaves the eyes without functional photoreceptors. When researchers injected AAQ into the eyes of the blind mice, the chemical made the remaining, normally "blind" cells in the retina sensitive to light. The pupils of the mice contracted in bright light and the mice displayed light avoidance. AAQ does eventually wear off. This makes it a safer alternative to other experimental therapies such as gene or stem cell therapies which permanently change the retina. In addition, the chemical is less invasive than light-sensitive electronic chips that are implanted into the eye. The dosage of AAQ can be adjusted and it can used in conjunction with other therapies.*

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