Sometimes it seems like all the cool medical news is coming out of retinal gene therapy or stem cell research, but what about optic nerve treatments? Everyone knows you can’t regenerate nerves, so if the optic nerve is damaged or underdeveloped there really aren’t any options. Or are there?
This news from Boston Children’s Hospital shows that researchers have been making great strides using gene therapy to regenerate optic nerves, but the big question has been whether or not those nerves would actually be able to restore visual function. OK, great, you regenerated optic nerves… but do they work?
Researchers found that regenerated nerves weren’t able to carry signals all the way from the eye to the brain, but that this could be fixed using a drug that helps strengthen nerve signals. This combination of gene therapy to grow the nerves and medicine to strengthen the signal could be the answer we’ve been looking for!
There’s still a lot of work ahead before this evolves into a treatment for people with optic nerve injuries or disorders, but it’s certainly moving in the right direction!
Read more about the research on the Vector Blog.