[Futurism]Gold and Titanium Restore Vision to Blind Mice
A team of Chinese researchers have restored the eyesight of blind mice by replacing their deteriorated photoreceptors with nano-wires made of gold and titanium. This method partially restored their sight, and paves the way to treating various eye diseases.
For years, scientists have sought to restore vision to those with poor eyesight or who suffer from eye diseases. Last year, several developments brought us closer to this goal — researchers reversed retinal degeneration and created bionic eyes. The FDA even approved a form of gene therapy to treat patients. The latest research attempt takes a metallic approach: researchers from Fudan University and the University of Science and Technology of China tried curing blindness using gold and titanium.
The team’s research, published in the journal Nature Communications, show this method can successfully restore eyesight in mice. Specifically, the scientists replaced the mice’s deteriorated photoreceptors — sensory structures in eyes that respond to light — with artificial photoreceptors, made using titanium dioxide and gold nano-wires.
To test their artificial receptors, the team first altered the mice’s genes so that their natural receptors degraded. The researchers implanted the metallic receptors in a few mice at a time, and watched as their subjects began responding to green, blue, and ultraviolet light. The mice’s pupils dilated, confirming the new photoreceptors were working and that the mice were responsive to light. The photoreceptors were left in for eight weeks, during which none of the mice displayed any negative side effects or injury.
The results were interesting, but they didn’t tell the researchers everything they needed to know. It was difficult to determine what the mice were seeing, and how clear their vision was. Furthermore, the replacement photoreceptors could not restore full color vision. While this probably wouldn’t be a huge concern for some people suffering from blindness, it’s still a sign that the team has more work to do.
On May 11, the Nature Publishing Group released Nature Publishing Index 2010 China, remarking “a dramatic rise in the quality of research being published by China”. University of Science and Technology of China is ranked 3rd of TOP 10 Institutions in Index 2010 China.