News & Blogs University of washington researchers developing cure for color blindness


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Nov 18, 2010
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From Komo News:

SEATTLE -- We could soon have a cure for a form of blindness that effects millions of people. One out of every 12 men is colorblind. It's less common in women but still affects one out of every 230 women. There's no treatment.

Now, University of Washington researchers Jay and Maureen Neitz are working on a cure. They have colorful photos that show a person with full color vision what it would be like to be one of the estimated 10 million Americans who is colorblind. Photos rich with color fade back into a few muted shades.

And many people don't talk about it. Dr. Jay Neitz just heard from a man who wrote, he was tired of being made fun of. "Oh, you're color blind? What color is my shirt? Oh, you're color blind? Can you see this" Dr. Neitz said. "And so a lot of people that are colorblind have learned not to tell anybody about it."

But the conversation opened up when the Neitz team cured colorblindness in squirrel monkeys. They tested the monkey's vision by teaching it to tap the screen where he saw a blotch of color. It was failure after failure. But after a single treatment of gene therapy, the monkey successfully tapped the color every time.

The Neitz's explain colorblindness is caused by a missing gene. Along with Avalanche Biotech, they're working to develop a genetic therapy that would replace that missing gene in the eye. It could be as simple as going to the doctor for a shot, and color vision would develop after a single visit.

Most of us take our color vision for granted. Without it, it would be tough to work in a lab where much of the equipment is color coded. You'd have trouble in the medical field. You couldn't be a commercial pilot, a police officer or fire fighter.

So when the researchers announced upcoming human trials, the response was overwhelming.

In the first week more than 10,000 people visited the website and 250 registered (to stay updated on clinical trials). "And I personally have gotten a lot of emails every day from people saying thank you so much for working on this," said Dr. Maureen Neitz. "There's been a definite clamor for people saying 'okay, when? I'm ready to enroll and be the first.'"

Those human trials likely won't start until the end of next year. The doctors say this research could lead to cures for other blinding disorders, too.
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Sometimes traveler is traveling.
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Jul 28, 2011
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Rochester, NY
I've read about something like this coming along - think it's different than this though (but hey - get them all on this) Have one friend who is definitely color blind - from birth - I guess it would be like not being able to taste things - blah. Have another friend who is color blind in certain colors and in certain lighting instances. I like my colors and tastes to hopefully they can get something going for them!

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