3 December 2015
Advances in stem cell transplantation and gene therapy have been pioneered in vision research. An international team of researchers from Bristol, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Montreal have identified a gene that could be responsible for some cases of human night blindness. Often genes that affect the function or survival of the principal light-sensitive cells in the retina, the rod and cone photoreceptors, are responsible for early onset night blindness. In contrast, PRDM8 appears to influence the inner neural circuitry of the retina that connects the photoreceptors with the rest of the central nervous system.
Dr Denize Atan, Consultant Senior Lecturer in Ophthalmology from the University of Bristol's School of Clinical Sciences and first author on the paper, said: "Our findings suggest that PRDM8 might be responsible for some cases of human night blindness and that PRDM8 is a potential candidate for gene therapy. In addition, our discovery of the importance of this gene to inner retinal circuitry could help researchers in their efforts to generate these neurons for transplantation studies."