A few colorblind squirrel monkeys in ophthalmology professor Jay Neitz's lab at the University of Washington, Seattle have received an early Christmas gift: gene therapy has restored their ability to see red and green. Neitz and his colleagues say that the achievement provides hope for treating vision disorders in human adults as well.
Colorblindness arises from a lack of visual photopigments in the eye sensitive to long- or medium-wavelength sensitive light, perhaps better known as "red" or "green" cones in the eye. The X chromosome carries the genes coding for such photopigments, so that females can become carriers if one of their X chromosomes lacks the genes.
Sons who receive the mutant X chromosome become colorblind and can only see shades of gray among reds and greens.
Almost 10 million men have red-green colorblindness in the United States, but the condition afflicts all male squirrel monkeys from birth. That changed for two squirrel monkeys when researchers injected viruses containing the missing L-optin gene into the monkeys' eyes.
The Scientist reports that neuroscientists uninvolved with the latest Nature study have praised the experiment as "pioneering" and "proof of principle," although they also caution that application to humans remains at least a decade away. Hopefully human treatment need not involve 19 weeks worth of eye injections by then.
[via The Scientist]
Wow This a great result of gene therapy. I wonder what they are using as a vector, Virus?
Dr. Brian Glassman
I am not sure if this was intentional or not, but giving your name, place of work etc, you are letting people know a little too much information. Not only could someone hypothetically find your address (ussearch.com), linkedIn page (possibly intentional to attract employers), but your amazon page showing your picture(!) and recent purchases (by the way, did you enjoy the "Kelly Madison and her Busty Friends DVD"?)
I don't mean to scare you or anything, rather to inform you. Next time someone with more sinister intentions might take a liking to you.
Great news for people with colour blindness,is the virus safe for humans at this point to be tested with? is there any initial developments or tests done using the virus to humans?
Well, it would be weird to wake up one day and find myself able to see red... Now of course, it would not be that fast, but I think you catch my meaning. Although it would be nice to know what people mean by a "deep" red...
And hey, if it works, I'll wait a decade for it. That would be an odd concept...
Although, if they can add another color to your visual spectrum, could that also mean adding in, say infrared on soldiers? Just curious, I mean, it doesn't seem that far fetched, but since the brain isn't wired to look at thermal, it might not register it properly... I have no idea...
i can see the long affects but identifying a red and green at traffics or shirts variations in differents materials dont seems to have impact on colour blind humans unless to a monkey,brain can process at very good and reasonable speed if trained purposely on a specific path.
Things get different trajectories in matters of days now days,leaving alone these colour blinds for that much of time would mean a lot significant for the future generation who could born at that point but loosing the decade with colourful deep red sight would be devastating for a scientist waiting to step in or a wanna be astronomer.
with much brain cells awaiting to be activated coding the colours of wavelength variations with not great magnitude of hertzs is possible..
Consider, that not just red and green would change and become more visible, but MANY aspects of sight would change.
Skin color on most Caucasians (and other light-skinned people) contain a great deal of pink -- pink is just a paler shade of red -- and yellow/olive hues. From what I understand, all a color-blind person sees is the yellow hue; you would only see grey if it was a pure shade, which most things in the world aren't.
To a color-blind person, this has been normal their entire life, but I can imagine how disconcerting it would be, if faces suddenly began to look different, as the red in skin, lips and hair would become visible. I wonder if knowing that not just plants and streetlights would appear different, but the entire world of mixed colors in which red and green appear -- faces, sunsets, cars -- would be a deterrent to some...I'd have pause, I suppose, if I were told that the world as I know it (and have become accustomed to) would appear differently for the rest of my life. (I mean, what if I discovered I hate the color green? *L*)
For that matter, I wonder if the brain is even wired to 'recognize' a color it has never experienced before?
I, too, wonder if we can be manipulated to see into the ultraviolet -- I've heard that certain flowers 'glow' under that light, in strange patterns, to attract insects. Maybe soldiers would be the first to harness it, but in the end, I guess poets would be the ones to celebrate it...