Gene Therapy in a Large Animal Model of PDE6A-Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Freya Mowat // Publications // Jan 01 2017

PubMed ID: 28676737

Author(s): Mowat FM, Occelli LM, Bartoe JT, Gervais KJ, Bruewer AR, Querubin J, Dinculescu A, Boye SL, Hauswirth WW, Petersen-Jones SM. Gene therapy in a large animal model of PDE6A-retinitis pigmentosa. Front Neurosci. 2017 Jun 20;11:342. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2017.00342. eCollection 2017. PMID 28676737

Journal: Frontiers In Neuroscience, Volume 11, 2017

Despite mutations in the rod phosphodiesterase 6-alpha (PDE6A) gene being well-recognized as a cause of human retinitis pigmentosa, no definitive treatments have been developed to treat this blinding disease. We performed a trial of retinal gene augmentation in the Pde6a mutant dog using Pde6a delivery by capsid-mutant adeno-associated virus serotype 8, previously shown to have a rapid onset of transgene expression in the canine retina. Subretinal injections were performed in 10 dogs at 29-44 days of age, and electroretinography and vision testing were performed to assess functional outcome. Retinal structure was assessed using color fundus photography, spectral domain optical coherence tomography, and histology. Immunohistochemistry was performed to examine transgene expression and expression of other retinal genes. Treatment resulted in improvement in dim light vision and evidence of rod function on electroretinographic examination. Photoreceptor layer thickness in the treated area was preserved compared with the contralateral control vector treated or uninjected eye. Improved rod and cone photoreceptor survival, rhodopsin localization, cyclic GMP levels and bipolar cell dendrite distribution was observed in treated areas. Some adverse effects including foci of retinal separation, foci of retinal degeneration and rosette formation were identified in both AAV-Pde6a and control vector injected regions. This is the first description of successful gene augmentation for Pde6a retinitis pigmentosa in a large animal model. Further studies will be necessary to optimize visual outcomes and minimize complications before translation to human studies.