Neuron paper shows restoration of vision in blind animals using a small molecule photoswitch

Scientists based at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Washington, Seattle, and the University of Munich, Germany have collaboratively published results of a study showing how a small molecule “photoswitch” – a molecule that changes conformation in response to light- may be capable of restoring vision in models of retinal degeneration. The research results, published in the Cell Press journal Neuron ( demonstrated that a chemical photoswitch named “DENAQ” was able to restore retinal responses to white light of an intensity similar to ordinary daylight. A single intra-ocular injection of DENAQ appeared to photosensitize a blind retina for up to a week, re-establishing electrophysiological and behavioral responses and with no signs of toxicity. DENAQ is described as a red-shifted K+ channel photo-switch exhibiting trans to cis photo-isomerization with visible light (450—550 nm) and relaxes rapidly to the trans configuration in the dark.