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New hope for those with optic nerve damage

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital were able to restore some visual function in mice that had optic nerve damage by using a combination of gene therapy and a channel-blocking drug. This is the first therapy that has been successful that can viably be used in a clinical setting. Other tested therapies could only be done in a lab and had the potential of being cancer-causing. Researchers were unaware of which mice in the study had been treated. It was discovered that the mice that had been treated were able to follow patterns of moving bars. The scientists made the bars thinner and thinner and determined that the vision of the mice had improved dramatically. More extensive testing will look into the long-term safety of using the channel-blocking drug (known as 4-AP) because of the potential side effect of seizures. And the research team will also be evaluating the extent of the visual recovery of the mice. Researchers want to also test and see if injecting a "cocktail" of growth factor proteins directly into the eye would be just as effective.*

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