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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

In vivo gene therapy in young and adult RPE65-/- dogs produces long-term visual improvement.

Defects in the RPE65 gene, which is selectively expressed in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), result in blindness and gradual photoreceptor cell degeneration. Experiments were conducted to assess the efficacy of gene replacement therapy in restoring retinal function in RPE65-/- dogs. Long-term effects of RPE65 gene therapy were assessed using visual behavioral testing and electroretinographic (ERG) recordings at 10-12 weeks and 6-9 months after surgery in five affected dogs. Subretinal injections of similar dosages of two constructs were performed in affected dogs at the ages of 4-30 months: rAAV.RPE65 into one eye and, in four of five dogs, rAAV.GFP contralaterally. Before surgery all RPE65-/- dogs were behaviorally blind with either no or very low-amplitude ERG responses to light stimuli. Marked improvements in visual behavior and ERG responses were observed as early as 4 weeks after surgery in affected animals. Except for light-adapted 50 Hz ERG flicker responses, all ERG parameters tested increased significantly in the eyes treated with the rAAV.RPE65 construct at the early follow-up. Gradual progressive improvements in ERG responses were observed in the RPE65-treated eyes over time. An unexpected finding was that on long-term follow-up, marked improvement of photopic ERG responses were also observed in the contralateral control eye in both young and older dogs. These results are promising for future clinical trials of human patients with retinal degenerative diseases, such as Leber congenital amaurosis, that result from RPE65 gene defects.[1]


  1. In vivo gene therapy in young and adult RPE65-/- dogs produces long-term visual improvement. Narfström, K., Katz, M.L., Ford, M., Redmond, T.M., Rakoczy, E., Bragadóttir, R. J. Hered. (2003) [Pubmed]
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