Squirrel monkeys, like some humans, particularly men, are red-green color blind due to the absence of the red cone pigment.
Color blind monkeys were treated with a virus that transferred the gene for the red cone pigment to their photoreceptors. Not only could the photoreceptors now detect red light, but the monkeys were no longer color blind because the monkeys’ brains were able to recognize a new stimulus.
Public Impact Statement/Significance:
This study demonstrates the plasticity of the adult visual system and it’s adaptation to a new sensory stimulus, and, that hard wiring of the nervous system during development is not a barrier to the remodeling of nervous system connections later in life and the ability to recover from damage.
U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute (Exploring Plasticity of the Adult Visual System Using Viral Vectors R01 EY016861)
Mancuso, K, et al. Gene therapy for red-green colour blindness in adult primates. Nature. 2009; 461:784-787. PubMed
Last Reviewed: October 2009