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Home Industry News Novartis “breakthrough” restores light sensitivity to retinas

Novartis “breakthrough” restores light sensitivity to retinas

30th April 2008

A “breakthrough technique” developed at the Friedrich Miescher Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (FMI) has restored light sensitivity to previously unresponsive retinas in blind mice, potentially paving the way for a treatment for humans, a new study has found.

The research into the technique found that it helped the mice to perform “visually guided behavioural tasks”, a result that could lead to clinical trials for humans.

According to Novartis, the research could “revolutionise” the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa and late-stage macular degeneration – conditions that often go undetected until they are untreatable.

Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of inherited retinal diseases that affect around 1.5 million people worldwide. It causes the progressive deterioration of the retina’s paper-thin light-absorbing cells.

If the new technique proves viable, however, it could be used as an alternative to surgical treatments involving the transplantation of electrode arrays.

FMI director Susan M Gasser said: “We are excited and encouraged by the results of the study, which open the way for clinical trials in humans.”

Novartis was created in 1996 by the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz. It is based in Basel, Switzerland.

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