Gene Therapy for Smithsonian Magazine

smithsonian gene therapy

Over the past few months, I've been making trips up to Philadelphia to document a groundbreaking, experimental study being done by doctors at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. All of the patients involved in the study have lost most of their sight due to a specific genetic disorder called Leber's congenital amaurosis. By injecting a corrected version of the DNA into the patient's eye, the doctor's hope that they might be able to reverse the genetic condition and restore the patient's sight.

The study is led by the husband and wife team of Albert Maguire and Jean Bennett, who couldn't have been more accommodating in letting me document everything from the last, teary moments an eight year old boy spent with his parents before going into the operating room, to the actual surgery, which is hours long and involves some precision cuts to the eye before the new genetic material goes in.

From a personal perspective, this was one of the most difficult assignments I did this year and I'm really hopeful for all the patients I met, that the new DNA will take hold and help them see better. From a professional perspective, it was wonderful being paired with the very talented Jocelyn Kaiser who wrote the story and I'm not sure I've ever had so many images from a single assignment run in the magazine. Jocelyn's article can be read here.

gene therapy lca
gene therapy lca
gene therapy lca
gene therapy