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Gene therapy for dogs could help RP patients

A US veterinary ophthalmologist is investigating whether a gene therapy that reverses sight loss in dogs could help humans with retinitis pigmentosa

A dog

A US clinician has received a five-year, £6.1 million grant to investigate the potential of advancing a gene therapy currently used in dogs to help retinitis pigmentosa (RP) patients.

Michigan State University veterinary ophthalmologist, Simon Petersen-Jones, has highlighted in research published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation that the treatment restored night vision and stopped the progression of daytime visual loss in dogs with progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).

PRA is an inherited condition in dogs that is caused by the same genes that are responsible for RP.

Mr Petersen-Jones emphasised that PRA is similar to RP in the way it appears and progresses.

“We were able to identify a shared gene and create a new therapy that effectively helped dogs see again. This new grant will allow us to build on our primary studies in preparation for an eventual clinical trial in human patients,” he shared.

The research team is hoping to obtain US Food and Drug Administration approval to test the gene therapy as an investigational new drug.