There is still no effective treatment for retinal degenerative diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP), in which the loss of photoreceptor cells causes visual loss and eventually blindness. In addition to its intrinsic scientific interest, basic research aimed at elucidating the biological mechanisms regulating the survival and function of cones and rods is also important from a clinical perspective, since it could provide a foundation for the development of therapeutic strategies for these diseases. The recent observation that photoreceptor degeneration in several RP animal models occurs through programmed cell death (apoptosis) illustrates this possibility well. This article will present a brief overview of recent research contributions toward the search for treatments for retinal degenerations of genetic origin.
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