RetroSense Therapeutics Licenses Vision Restoration Technology From Wayne State
Ann Arbor, MI-based RetroSense Therapeutics recently inked a deal with Wayne State University to license a novel gene-therapy approach to treating blindness that was originally studied in the university’s School of Medicine. The treatment offers promise to people suffering with incurable blindness caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people older than 60, affecting more than 8 million people in the United States alone. RP is a genetically-determined eye disease. An estimated 100,000 people in the U.S. have RP, which typically manifests as night blindness and progresses to tunnel vision or complete blindness.
Developed by Zua-Hua Pan, professor of anatomy and cell biology, the technology is designed to convert light-insensitive inner retinal neurons into photosensitive cells. Using a virus that delivers a photoreceptor gene from green algae called channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), Pan found that ChR2 made the inner retinal neurons become light sensitive, and that it persisted for long periods in the neurons, ultimately leading to restored responses to light in the visual cortex of the brain.
RetroSense has licensed the technology from Wayne State with the intention of eventually testing the technology in humans. Phase I clinical trials could begin as early as 2013.