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Ben

The following articles were authored by Ben

ProQR Doses First Participant in Its LCA10 Therapy Clinical Trial

ProQR, a biotech company in the Netherlands, has treated its first patient in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial for QR-110, a therapy for people with Leber congenital amaurosis 10 (LCA10), which is caused by the p.Cys998X mutation in the CEP290 gene. The mutation is estimated to affect about 2,000 people in the Western world.

The Phase 1/2 trial will enroll six children and six adults who have the mutation. Participants will receive a dose in one eye every three months for a year. The treatment is delivered through an injection into the vitreous, the gel-like substance in the middle of the eye.
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FDA Committee Unanimously Recommends Approval for Spark’s RPE65 Gene Therapy – Final Decision Due in January 2018

Ashley and Cole Carper traveled from Little Rock, AR, to tell their family’s story at the FDA hearing.

Ashley and Cole Carper traveled from Little Rock, AR, to tell their family’s story at the FDA hearing.

Spark Therapeutics has taken a major step closer to gaining marketing approval for its vision-restoring gene therapy for people with RPE65 mutations causing Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) and retinitis pigmentosa. At the conclusion of a public hearing on October 12, 2017, an advisory committee comprised of FDA-selected experts voted unanimously – 16 to 0 – to recommend approval. The FDA is due to make a final decision on marketing approval for the treatment, known as voretigene neparvovec, by January 12, 2018.

The event held at FDA headquarters included the presentation of trial results from Spark representatives, as well as compelling testimony from patients, family members, and industry stakeholders.

Twenty-four-year-old Katelyn Corey told hearing attendees that before receiving the treatment, her constant adaptation to dwindling vision didn’t leave time for much else in her life. But her circumstances changed dramatically in December 2013, after she received the RPE65 gene therapy in Spark’s Phase III clinical trial.
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FFB’s Investments Are Filling the Pipeline for Vision-Saving Therapies

GXM_7140With five gene-therapy clinical trials underway or soon to begin, Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation (AGTC) is generating tremendous excitement for the potential to overcome vision loss from several inherited retinal diseases.

At the Foundation’s Investing in Cures Summit on September 16 in Chicago, Sue Washer, AGTC’s chief executive officer, emphasized FFB’s crucial role in moving the company and its projects forward. “We as an organization would not be here today without FFB,” she said. “And that all started with the work that was funded by the Foundation in Bill Hauswirth’s lab at the University of Florida.” Bill Hauswirth, PhD, is one of AGTC’s scientific co-founders, and his groundbreaking gene-therapy research has been funded by FFB for 20 years.
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MeiraGTx Treats First Patient in XLRP Gene-Therapy Trial

MeiraGTx, a gene-therapy company in London and New York City, has treated its first patient in a gene-therapy clinical trial for people with X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) caused by mutations in the gene RPGR. The Phase I/II study is taking place at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. The safety-oriented trial will enroll 36 participants. Three dose levels of the therapy will be evaluated.

XLRP is a leading cause of inherited, progressive retinal degeneration and vision loss. The condition usually affects males, but is also diagnosed occasionally in females. Mutations in the gene RPGR cause about 70 percent of XLRP cases. RPGR mutations affect about 15,000 people in the United States and tens of thousands more around the world.
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Scientists Receive $25 Million to Develop a Vision-Restoring System that Connects to the Brain

Labels in English are (clockwise): Intelligent neuromorphic camera/LED; Matrix for optical stimulation of neurons/electronic; Implant for data processing/external; Antenna for energy transfer and wireless communication; External module for visual information transfer

Labels in English are (clockwise from upper left): Intelligent neuromorphic camera/LED; Matrix for optical stimulation of neurons/electronic; Implant for data processing/external; Antenna for energy transfer and wireless communication; External module for visual information transfer

While researchers around the world are developing numerous drugs and biological therapies for ocular diseases and injuries, an international scientific team coordinated in France is developing an innovative approach to bring back eyesight to the blind that bypasses the eye entirely. Their high-tech, vision-restoring system interfaces with the visual cortex, the back of the brain where visual input is processed to create the images we see.

The CorticalSight Consortium, led by Jose-Alain Sahel, MD, at the Institut de la Vision and the University of Pittsburgh, and Serge Picaud, PhD, at the Institut de la Vision, was recently awarded a contract of up to $24.9 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for development of their system, which combines optogenetics and advanced image-capturing and -processing technologies. A major advantage of the approach is it is designed to provide vision restoration for people regardless of their eye disease or condition.
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Foundation Fighting Blindness and 4D Molecular Therapeutics Partner to Boost Retinal Gene Therapy Development

Promising gene therapies for inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) — many of which have moved into clinical trials — use viral delivery systems (aka vectors) to get copies of the therapeutic gene to the retinal cells that need them. Viruses are well suited when used for gene delivery, because they’re adept at penetrating cells with their genetic cargo. While some viruses in their natural state can cause illness, therapy developers remove the native genes and replace them with those that are therapeutic.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness and 4D Molecular Therapeutics (4DMT), an innovative leader in viral vector development, have formed a partnership to help companies and researchers quickly obtain and implement high-quality vectors for their retinal gene-therapy development efforts.
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FFB-Funded Scientists Report on Nine Promising Translational Research Efforts

Translational research — moving promising science out of laboratories and into clinical trials — is essential to getting vision-saving, retinal-disease treatments out to the millions who need them. With that said, translational research is also costly and high risk and requires extensive clinical development and regulatory knowledge.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness has taken the translational challenge head on by investing more than $75 million in therapy-development projects with strong clinical-trial potential through its Translational Research Acceleration Program (TRAP), which includes Gund-Harrington Scholar Awards.
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Researchers Find Mutation as Frequent Cause of RP in American Hispanics

A Foundation-funded research collaboration identified a mutation in the gene SAG as a frequent cause of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP) in the American Hispanic population. Eight of the 22 Hispanic families with adRP in their whole-exome-sequencing study had the mutation. The discovery can help genetic experts diagnose more patients with adRP, and it gives researchers a target for developing potential therapies. Results of the SAG study were published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (IOVS).
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Valproic Acid’s Effect Too Small in One-Year Clinical Trial

However, researchers identify a potentially powerful endpoint for evaluating emerging therapies in future studies.

Results from a clinical trial sponsored by the Foundation Fighting Blindness Clinical Research Institute (FFB-CRI) indicate that valproic acid, a drug approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for seizure disorders, did not sufficiently preserve vision in people with autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP). FFB-CRI launched the 90-person study in 2010, because previous lab research, and a published clinical report involving a few patients, had suggested the drug might slow vision loss in people with adRP.
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Forty-Four High-Impact Retinal-Research Efforts Highlighted at FFB-Casey Innovation Summit

For anyone wanting to know about the latest clinically focused research for inherited retinal diseases (IRDs), the Innovation Summit for Retinal Cell and Gene Therapy was the place to be.

In its fourth year, the meeting is becoming the world’s most comprehensive overview of the promising research underway for emerging IRD treatments. Hosted by the Foundation Fighting Blindness and Casey Eye Institute (Oregon Health & Science University), the Innovation Summit featured 44 information-packed presentations from research and industry leaders. Summit co-hosts were Casey’s Mark Pennesi, MD, PhD, and Trevor McGill, PhD, and Patricia Zilliox, PhD, chief drug development officer of FFB’s Clinical Research Institute. More than 250 researchers and industry leaders were in attendance. Spark Therapeutics was a sponsor of the event.
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