Rutledge Ellis-Behnke from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues managed to partially restore vision in blinded hamsters using nanotechnology.
The researchers severed a nerve tract within the visual system of both young and adult hamsters, which resulted in blindness. For some of the animals, the synthetic substance, called SAPNS, was applied immediately after the incision. Other animals were given saline as a control.
Within 24 hours, all of the animals treated with SAPNS showed signs of healing; with time, the gaps in their brain tissues closed up completely.
In the adult group, vision was functionally restored within six weeks. In one animal, the severed nerve tract was restored to more than 80 percent that of a normal animal. In other studies, the researchers found that nerves needed to be only about 40 percent healed for animals to have functional vision.