Husband and wife researchers Maureen and Jay Neitz of the University of Washington have been working on a cure for colorblindness for years.
Not only does this inherited disorder pose a safety hazard, but a quality of life issue as well.
Millions of people are affected, far more men than women.
Back in 2009, the couple showed that colorblind squirrel monkeys could be cured with a surgical form of gene therapy, which is highly risky and not exactly practical.
But now comes another breakthrough.
“The idea is we’re now moving forward to a solution that could be done in a doctor’s office with a single shot,” said Jay.
They have now teamed up with Avalanche Biotechnologies of Menlo Park to develop that shot, which will deliver gene therapy directly into the eye.
“It’s possible that once the gene gets established, it may last in the eyes for a lifetime. We don’t know that yet, but in the animals at ten years they’re expressing the gene and show the effects of still seeing colors that they didn’t see before,” said Jay.
The goal is to begin human testing by the end of 2016.