Scientists make new discovery that may help prevent blindness

The Atlantic Journal-Constitution summarizes research being done in Switzerland at Paul Scherer Institute on a protein, cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channel, in the eye. This protein that is partially responsible for translating light into a visual image is implicated in blindness. Thus, understanding the protein's function in the eye will allow the identification of molecules that may regulate the protein’s activity and restore vision.

What this means for Usher syndrome: In retinitis pigmentosa the rods become damaged and the disease progresses over time. The structural studies performed with this ion channel will provide information about how alteration in its structure can affect its function, giving insight into potential future treatments. If scientists understand the protein's role in the disease progression, then it may be possible to find ways to preserve the functionality of the protein and also the photoreceptors.

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