Lake County family hopes FDA approves possible blindness cure

Creed Pettit, 8, diagnosed with Leber congenital amaurosis as toddler

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – A Lake County family is keeping a close eye on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval panel this week, after the agency has spent years conducting trial tests of a potential cure for blindness.

Creed Pettit, 8, was diagnosed with Leber congenital amaurosis when he was a toddler. The rare genetic mutation essentially prevents the body from producing the protein needed for the brain to make sense of what the eye is seeing.

Creed's mother, Sarah Pettit, said she first became concerned when Creed was a baby and wasn't reaching certain milestones.

"The first two years, we just didn't know what was going on," Pettit said.

After nearly a decade of test trials, a new form of gene therapy called Luxturna will be at the center of the FDA's approval panel. If approved, the treatment will be the first of its kind, essentially injecting the eye with the protein it needs to function with the brain.

Doctors said in some cases it has already cured blindness.

"If it is another year, or is if it is mid-2018, maybe this will be the Fourth of July where we see the fireworks in the sky," Pettit said. "If not, maybe this is the Christmas where we get to run around all downtown Mount Dora and see the Christmas lights."

The FDA has until Jan. 12 to make a decision. If approved, a price tag is still unknown, but the cost of the injection is expected to be more than $500,000 per eye.

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