We’ve written a post on color blindness before, but there’s still a lot to say, so here’s another one! In 2009, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle developed a cure for color blindness in squirrel monkeys, that can also be possibly applicable to humans. They cured Daltonism, red-green color blindness, in the monkeys by injecting them with a virus that had the corrective gene for their defective cone cells (photoreceptors in the retina) as a payload.
Due to a large amount of time they spent training the monkeys to react to colors, they could finally determine that they were as a matter of fact aware of colors, as opposed to their actions before the treatment.
Wy is this so important though? Daltonism is by far the most occuring vision defect in humans, and it stems from similar defective cone cells. Considering about 5% of male humans suffers from it, a cure like this could make a huge difference once it is made available for humans. But it has even more potential than that. Many other human eye-diseases stem from problems with these same cone cells, and these diseases are the cause of partial -or complete- blindness. If it is possible to cure one cone cell disease by using gene therapy, solutions for these even more severe problems might come into range.
We are not there yet though, as the therapy is still in its testing phase for humans, and for that it has to go through the many legislative procedures required for testing medicines. Once that is done though, and if it is considered safe for humans, we can look forward to a very potent new weapon in humanity’s ever increase disease-combatting arsenal.