29 May 2021

Rachel Huckfeldt: DNA editing to help fix blindness

From Saturday Morning, 10:43 am on 29 May 2021
Dr Rachel Huckfeldt of Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Dr Rachel Huckfeldt of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Photo: Supplied

A historic trial is underway in the United States to help restore vision to blind patients by editing their DNA while it is in their bodies.

CRISPR gene-editing technology has been revolutionising scientific research by allowing doctors to rewrite genetic code to try and help people with conditions such as sickle cell anemia and certain types of cancer. But this is the first time the technology has been used directly inside a patient, and there has already been success in people with inherited retinal diseases.

The trial is being co-led by Massachusetts Eye and Ear, a Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital in Boston, where Dr Rachel Huckfeldt is an Associate Surgeon and the Director of the Inherited Retinal Degenerations Fellowship.