PerspectiveNeuroscience

Unblinding with infrared nanosensors

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Science  05 Jun 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6495, pp. 1057-1058
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc2294

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Summary

Many cases of blindness result from progressive loss of photoreceptors, which are the light-sensing cells in the eye. For individuals with such progressive blindness, potential therapies aim at restoring vision by making the retina light-sensitive again while minimally interfering with any healthy photoreceptors—goals that are usually contradictory. Many current therapeutic strategies interfere with remaining vision, making them primarily suitable for patients who have lost all light sensitivity. On page 1108 of this issue, Nelidova et al. (1) present a potential solution to this conundrum: making the retina sensitive to infrared light, which is largely undetectable by human photoreceptors. They use engineered nanoparticle sensors and gene therapy to induce infrared light sensitivity in mice with inherited degenerative blindness and in postmortem human retinas. This approach might avoid damage to functional photoreceptors by preventing saturation or hyperactivation while inducing light sensitivity in patients with partial retinal degeneration.

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