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Three on Sight - III Looking Back

Gene therapy techniques reprogram age-related vision loss

03 February 2021

Looking Back

It’s no secret that things start to fall apart as we get older, including worsening eyesight. But what if we could turn back the biological clock? A new study in mice provides a tantalising clue that this might be possible. As we age, the DNA in our cells picks up molecular marks known as epigenetic modifications, which affect how genes work. Crucially, these modifications are also important for enabling cells to remember their identity and the job that they do. Researchers used clever gene therapy techniques to manipulate the epigenetic modifications in the eyes of older mice, aiming to wipe away the marks of ageing without losing the cells’ identity. Altered cells are highlighted in green in this image of the retina (back of the eye) from a mouse receiving the therapy. Impressively, the treatment improved vision in mice with age-related vision loss and enabled injured eye nerves to regrow.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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