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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Color-blindness Cure?

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, September 4, 2015/Categories: natural history, video

Anyone who wears glasses know the drill at the eye doctor: first a scan of your retinas to make certain the blood vessels are in good shape; then a series of tests to determine your capacity to recognize increasingly smaller letters and numbers; and then a test for color-blindness, the inability to see shapes presented as colors on a dot-chart. If you don't see the shapes, you're color blind.

Color-blindness is inherited and more commonly found in males (~6%) than females since the gene causing the condition is carried on the X-chromosome and men have only one copy. It affects the eye's cone cell's ability to distinguish light in the middle or longer wavelengths producing difficulty to distinguish reds, yellows, and greens. This is called being red–green color blind and efforts have been underway for years to develop an effective strategy that could restore complete vision.

With the advent of genetic engineering the use of  gene therapy , where a proper copy of the gene is injected into the damaged organ, has opened a new door. The therapy has already proven successful. The California Academy of Sciences and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute collaborated to create a video explaining the problem and the potential biotechnological solution. A second video show a color blind spider monkey, Dalton, treated by injected color genes claim a food treat. The little monkey taps his head against a red patch on a screen, something he couldn't do before as the patch wasn't visible to his eyes, and the treat appears.

I don't know what little Dalton was getting so exciting about after touching the screen but I can imagine people who've missed seeing green forests or red sunsets must be thinking about their visual capacity future.


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