The Loh Down On Science

Three Blind Mice

Three Blind Mice? Not anymore!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, and bad news for the farmer’s wife.

In the retina, light-sensitive cells allow us to see. If they die, we go blind.

But now scientists have discovered a possible cure for blindness.

They took--literally--some blind mice, and placed them into a tube with a light at one end. Regardless of whether the light was on or off, the blind mice roamed aimlessly.

The researchers then injected the blind mice with a chemical called AAQ. This is a molecule that actually gets turned on by a light or spotlight.

The now-injected mice sensed the light and scurried to the darkest areas.

When AAQ binds to non-light-sensitive retinal cells, it physically changes the way chemicals called ions travel through those cells. This activates them just as light would.

Although AAQ’s effect is temporary, it could offer a safer, nonsurgical way to work on treatments for impaired vision.

And if we lose a nursery rhyme or two, we’ll just make up new ones. “Three seeing mice, three seeing mice. . . .” Okay, needs work.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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