A surgeon at the John Radcliffe Hospital in the UK successfully injected a synthetic gene into a patient's eye in the hope of stopping the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
The patient, Janet Osborne, is the first person to receive the gene therapy in the trial that is being conducted at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
The synthetic gene is carried in a harmless virus and then injected into the back of the eye. The virus then "infects" the retinal cells and releases the gene into the eye. The gene helps the eye to generate a protein that stops retinal cells from dying and helps to keep the macula healthy.
The early stage trialis checking the safety of the procedure and is only being conducted with patients who have already lost some of their vision. The goal of the gene therapy, if the trial is successful, would be to treat patients who have age-related macular degeneration before they have lost any of their vision.