Researchers have discovered a way to make light sensitive cells in the eye by switching on a single gene.
According to research published online today in Nature, the team from Imperial College London and the University of Manchester, have discovered that activating the melanopsin gene in the nerve cells causes them to become light responsive, or photoreceptive.
Using mouse cells, the researchers found that melanopsin could be used to make neurones light responsive. They found that as well as being sensitive to blue light, melanopsin uses light at different wavelengths to regenerate itself. In some forms of hereditary blindness photoreceptors are lost entirely, but the retinal ganglion cells, the cells which signal to the brain, remain intact. The researchers believe that by activating the melanopsin, these cells may gain the ability to sense and respond to light.
Tony Stephenson | EurekAlert!
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