Possible Cure for Blindness

For the time being, the new process creates a level of vision similar to watching television in black and white. But that's still remarkable!

A Hungarian researcher has won the Körber Prize for European Science 2020 in Hamburg, Germany, earning him a €1 million ($1.18 million) in the process.

Botond Roska, who works in the Swiss city of Basel, has uncovered a gene-based therapy that reprogrammes cells in the human eye so that they can perform the work of the light-sensitive receptors needed for human vision, according to the Körber Foundation that hands out the annual prize. It's hoped the procedure will reactivate the retinas of the blind.

The medical scientist said that, for the time being, the process creates a level of vision similar to watching television in black and white. Clinical tests on blind volunteers are already underway as a result of the Budapest-born researcher's groundbreaking work.

"Roska's research has woken up hope that new treatment methods might restore the ability to see in the blind," said Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher at the ceremony on Monday.

Candidates for the prize need not be from Europe, but they must be living in Europe. Renowned scientists from all over Europe, grouped into two Search Committees, select promising candidates. The awards are annual and alternate between the life and physical sciences.

Those who are shortlisted are then asked to submit a detailed proposal for a research project which is then judged in two rounds of assessment by the Search Committee. The work of the Search Committee is supported by international experts. A maximum of five candidates are subsequently recommended to the Trustee Committee which, based on a summary of expert assessments, previous publications and scientific career history, decides on the new prize winner.

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