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Gene therapy offers blindness hope

A clinical trial of an experimental form of gene therapy has improved the vision of patients with hereditary blindness, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Three patients underwent the pioneering eye surgery in a trial led by University College London's (UCL's) Professor Robin Ali.

One of the patients, an 18-year-old man named Steven Horwath, has benefited from improved vision following the procedure, according to New Scientist.

The young man told the magazine: "Before the operation, I used to rush home from college when it started to get dark because I was worried about getting around.

"Now I can take my time and stay later at college if I need to, for band rehearsals and things like that."

The therapy involves inserting 'repair' genes contained in a disabled virus into the patient's eye.

The research was carried out by an international team, including Katherine High of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

The expert told the New Scientist: "This is really an exciting result for gene therapy as a field."

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