Gene Therapy Changes Life Of Star Singer Suffering From Childhood Blindness

On Tuesday the FDA approved a groundbreaking gene therapy treatment developed by doctors at the University of Pennsyl...

Posted: Dec 21, 2017 10:28 AM
Updated: Dec 21, 2017 10:28 AM

On Tuesday the FDA approved a groundbreaking gene therapy treatment developed by doctors at the University of Pennsylvania. That same treatment has helped changed the life of a star singer suffering from childhood blindness.

America's Got Talent semi-finalist Christian Guardino developed a love for music at a young boy because a congenital eye condition took his vision.

"Growing up, I'd have to sit inside with my parents, with the lights on, because I couldn't see enough to play with the other kids," he said. "And I thought that was normal."

But one day Christian's parents decided to take a chance and enroll him in a clinical trial at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with hopes to restore their son's sight.

That's when the Guardino family met Dr. Jean Bennett and her team who were given a rare opportunity to conduct clinical trials on children.

"We wanted to make sure that this had the highest level of safety and highest level of improvement in vision as possible," Bennett said.

FDA approval has been a 20-year journey for Dr. Bennett and her husband Dr. Albert Maguire who developed the treatment for the gene mutation that affected Christian and many others.

Bennett says Guardino's condition is "an inherited early onset blindness caused by defects in a specific gene called RPE-65. The treatment would only work for that particular form of blindness."

Elizabeth Guardino, Christian's mother, says they were scared at first but ultimately felt that the risk was well worth the potential reward.

"As time went by, I got to see more and more things like the moon and the stars," Christian said. "I saw, in detail for the first time, my mother and father's faces. It's just been incredible."

Elizabeth says she is eternally grateful to the doctors who changed her son's life.

"They're extraordinary, extraordinary human beings," she said. "They really are."

"Hopefully, it's going to lead to other groundbreaking treatments for other diseases," Elizabeth added.

Now that the treatment has been approved it will soon be available for anyone who can afford it, but experts say it could cost as much as $1 million.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48626

Reported Deaths: 2717
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11723689
Lake5212244
Elkhart332051
Allen2815132
St. Joseph198168
Cass16399
Hamilton1596101
Hendricks1414100
Johnson1288117
Porter73637
Tippecanoe7279
Madison66364
Clark66044
Bartholomew58944
Howard58057
LaPorte57926
Vanderburgh5706
Kosciusko5564
Marshall4926
Noble48428
Jackson4723
LaGrange4719
Delaware45050
Boone44943
Hancock44935
Shelby43025
Floyd38244
Morgan32931
Monroe30128
Montgomery29720
Grant29526
Clinton2892
Dubois2836
Henry28016
White26510
Decatur25532
Lawrence24625
Vigo2368
Dearborn23323
Warrick22129
Harrison21622
Greene19032
Miami1842
Jennings17612
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess14717
Wayne1426
Orange13523
Perry1359
Steuben1302
Franklin1268
Ripley1227
Jasper1212
Wabash1132
Carroll1102
Fayette1017
Newton9910
Whitley965
Starke933
Gibson872
Randolph804
Huntington782
Wells751
Jefferson722
Fulton711
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Owen491
Benton480
Sullivan451
Posey440
Spencer411
Blackford392
Brown391
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton311
Switzerland270
Martin230
Parke230
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 58904

Reported Deaths: 2970
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10587431
Cuyahoga8048379
Hamilton6158204
Lucas2788303
Marion273439
Pickaway220141
Summit2175207
Montgomery213431
Mahoning1849238
Butler163747
Columbiana130660
Stark1133113
Lorain105167
Trumbull97473
Warren88124
Clark7729
Delaware58815
Fairfield58516
Tuscarawas56810
Belmont55422
Medina53632
Lake50819
Licking49612
Miami47231
Portage44959
Ashtabula43644
Wood43651
Clermont4226
Geauga40843
Wayne36352
Richland3475
Allen32341
Mercer2879
Greene2769
Darke25326
Erie24622
Holmes2393
Huron2232
Madison1999
Ottawa15024
Sandusky13714
Crawford1365
Washington13520
Ross1303
Putnam12915
Coshocton1272
Hardin12312
Morrow1171
Auglaize1074
Jefferson912
Monroe8917
Union891
Muskingum861
Hancock791
Hocking788
Preble781
Guernsey743
Lawrence720
Williams722
Shelby694
Clinton680
Logan641
Athens631
Fulton620
Ashland601
Carroll593
Wyandot595
Brown581
Knox521
Defiance513
Fayette460
Highland451
Scioto450
Champaign411
Van Wert380
Perry351
Seneca342
Henry300
Paulding260
Adams241
Jackson240
Pike240
Vinton222
Gallia181
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 72°
Angola
68° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 68°
Huntington
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 70°
Decatur
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 70°
Van Wert
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 70°
Hot Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events