Harvard Medical School scientists have buoyed hopes that it’s possible to reverse age-related vision loss — at least in animals.
Their hopes were boosted after they successfully restored vision in mice by turning back the clock on aged eye cells in the retina to recapture youthful gene function.
The Harvard scientists’ work was published in a December 2 issue of Nature science journal. Their study is the first demonstration that reversing age-related vision loss is doable by safely reprogramming complex tissues, such as the eye’s nerve cells to an earlier age.
It’s possible to safely reverse the age of complex tissues, the study found
The team utilized three genes that are present during embryo development to give the eyes of the mice a sort of boost, and it proved effective.
Through reprogramming the expression of the three genes, the Harvard scientists were successful in triggering mature nerve cells in mice eyes to adopt a youthful state.
This method, according to the study, reversed glaucoma in the mice and reversed age-related vision loss in elderly mice. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness around the world.
“Our study demonstrates that it’s possible to safely reverse the age of complex tissues such as the retina and restore its youthful biological function,” David Sinclair, senior author of the study, said in a statement.