A Hungarian scientist has just won €1 Million prize after conducting groundbreaking research that discovers a gene-editing treatment for a particular type of blindness. Botond Roska is a cell biologist and his work against a type of degenerative eye disease is undergoing clinical trials.
Last week, Roska was awarded the prestigious prize of €1 million for his excellent work on the human retina. His work placed him among the leaders in the study of ophthalmology in the world. In his work, he identified more than 100 retina cell types and their complex interrelations.
This Hungarian scientist discovered a potential cure for retinitis pigmentosa. This is a group of rare genetic disorders that results in mutations in the genes responsible for coding proteins required to make human photoreceptors—the cell which detects light and enables us to see.
Some visual degenerations correlate with age, but retinitis pigmentosa is different as it usually starts in childhood, and can result in blindness. Although this disease is rare, it is one of the commonest causes of degenerative blindness.
Roska’s work on novel gene therapies conducted in the University of Basel, Switzerland and this involved reprogramming retina cells into photoreceptors. This means taking over from the damaged cells and then restoring color and light in blind retinas.
Every year, the Körber Prize is awarded to a single European in physical sciences and life sciences disciplines.