A woman from Oxford has become the first person in the world to have gene therapy to try to halt the most common form of blindness in the Western world.
Surgeons injected a synthetic gene into the back of Janet Osborne’s eye in a bid to prevent more cells from dying.
It is the first treatment to target the underlying genetic cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
About 600,000 people in the UK are affected by AMD, of whom 350,000 are severely sight impaired.
Janet Osborne told BBC News: “I find it difficult to recognise faces with my left eye because my central vision is blurred – and if this treatment could stop that getting worse, it would be amazing.”
The treatment was carried out under local anaesthetic last month at Oxford Eye Hospital by Robert MacLaren, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Oxford.
He told BBC News: “A genetic treatment administered early on to preserve vision in patients who would otherwise lose their sight would be a tremendous breakthrough in ophthalmology and certainly something I hope to see in the near future.”
Mrs Osborne, 80, is the first of 10 patients with AMD taking part in a trial of the gene therapy treatment, manufactured by Gyroscope Therapeutics, funded by Syncona, the Wellcome Trust founded investment firm. -BBC