Small molecule may light the way even in the absence of photoreceptors

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Washington, Seattle and the University of Munich, Germany have published the results of studies showing that a small synthetic light-activatable molecule – AAQ (acrylamide-azobenzene-quaternary) – may be capable of temporarily restoring vision in blind animals, even in the absence of functioning photoreceptor cells. Further work on an improved compound, currently underway, may eventually enable patients with degenerative diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa to regain some levels of functional vision.