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Wayne State announces license agreement for breakthrough approaches to vision restoration
Date:10/18/2011

DETROIT RetroSense Therapeutics, LLC, a Michigan-based company, announced that it has executed its exclusive, worldwide option and signed a license agreement for novel gene-therapy approaches for treating blindness developed at Wayne State University's School of Medicine.

Zhuo-Hua Pan, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and cell biology in the School of Medicine, along with colleagues at Salus University in Pennsylvania, developed the breakthrough therapy and follow-on approaches that offer promise to people suffering with incurable blindness caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP) retinal degenerative disorders that are currently incurable.

AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people older than 60, affecting more than 8 million people in the U.S. alone. Worldwide, 500,000 individuals lose their eyesight annually to AMD, which is the result of progressive deterioration of photoreceptor cells in the macula, the central portion of the retina.

RP is a genetically-determined eye disease caused by mutations in more than 100 different genes. An estimated 100,000 people in the U.S. have RP, which typically manifests as night blindness and progresses to tunnel vision and sometimes complete blindness.

Pan's novel strategy focused on genetically converting light-insensitive inner retinal neurons into photosensitive cells thus restoring light-sensitivity to retinas that lack photoreceptors. 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.

With this technology, combined with the business and drug development expertise of RetroSense's seasoned management team, Pan is hopeful his breakthrough treatment is on the fast track to
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Contact: Julie O'Connor
julie.oconnor@gmail.com
313-577-8845
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
Source:Eurekalert

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