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Vision studies in monkeys

Researchers from the Paris Vision Institute, France, have made further groundbreaking advances with a potential therapy to restore sight in humans.

Although medical devices that stimulate the retina can restore some vision, patients are still not able to recognise faces or move independently.

To gain sharper visual perception, the team developed in monkeys an optogenetic therapy – a technique that involves the use of light to control brain cells.

These results lay the groundwork for an ongoing clinical trial for vision restoration in human patients who have a genetic disorder of the eyes that causes a loss of vision called retinitis pigmentosa.

Previously, scientists at the Institute developed a retinal device, which was tested in monkeys, prior to the clinical trials that are currently ongoing in patients affected by age-related macular degeneration.

“The study in monkeys allowed the Vision Institute to create an effective optogenetic therapy that could have a positive impact in patients suffering from some types of blindness.”

Serge Picaud, Research Director at Institut de la Vision, Paris, France

Meanwhile, a team at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience have also used monkeys to test a brain implant that could restore some vision in blind people who have suffered injury or degeneration of the retina, but whose visual cortex - part of the brain that processes visual information - remains intact.

Retinal field images showing different points on the retina where movement can activate neuronal activity. Figure depicting 18 maps of the retina, with different area highlighted in colour to show a response
Optogenetic activity represented by coloured points on the retina of a monkey, showing how different moving symbols stimulate various patterns of neuronal activity.


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