Imagine having a disease where you slowly lose your sight—and there’s nothing that can be done about it. For some people, that is their reality. But thanks to new work by scientists at Columbia University, that might change. The disease is called retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and it causes the cells in the eye that allow you to see slowly die.
The researchers at Columbia have found a possible way to keep those cells that allow you to see living longer. They found that the cells die because they can’t properly metabolize sugars. By turning off a gene that blocks sugar metabolism, the scientists produced eye cells that lived longer.
It’s not a cure for RP—the cells eventually died, despite the help—but it is a potential treatment. There’s still a long way to go before it could be used by doctors, but it’s a great start!
Targeting specific genes that aren’t working properly in a sick person is called precision medicine and doctors are looking to it for the future of medicine. With advances in genetics, scientists aim to make RP a thing of the past.