EyeTherapy Blog News

Athena Vision launches; developing gene therapies for devastating eye diseases

Tue, 24 Nov 2015 11:53:39 +0000

Athena Vision is focused on developing gene therapies for eye diseases based on research conducted at UCL Today sees the launch of Athena Vision Limited a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of gene therapies to treat a range of devastating eye diseases causing blindness. Launched by UCL Business PLC, the wholly-owned technology transfer company of UCL, […]


Registration for Retina Day 2015 Now Open!

Wed, 10 Jun 2015 11:37:25 +0000

It’s that time once agin for our annual research day for patients and the public. Retina Day 2015 is a free, one day event is organised by the Gene and Cell Therapy Group, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre. Come along to: * Hear about some of the latest innovations in research […]


UCL RPE65 Gene Therapy Trial Shows Benefit in People with Leber Congenital Amaurosis Type 2 for up to Three Years After Treatment

Tue, 05 May 2015 14:44:39 +0000

We are delighted to be able to announce that yesterday, Monday 4th May, the long-term results of our RPE65 gene therapy trial for Leber Congenital Amaurosis Type 2 (LCA2) were published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Begun in 2007, this was the world’s first-in-human trial of gene therapy to treat an inherited […]


Gene therapies for diabetic eye disease

Diabetes harms the retina and is a leading cause of severe sight impairment. Find out about how you can support our work and help develop effective therapies.

Current treatments for diabetic eye disease can help some people to some extent but do not work reliably and have harmful side effects. We aim to develop new treatments that can protect the circulation in the retina and promote the healthy function of its nerves. We are working to understand the ways that diabetes can harm the retina and to develop new treatments, including gene and cell therapies.

We can model the damage to the retina caused by growth of leaky blood vessels which allows us to test novel treatments
We can model the damage to the retina caused by diabetes. This allows us to test novel treatments. Left panel: leaky blood vessels growing into the retina of a person with diabetes, which can harm sight. Right panel: mouse retina showing a lack oxygen (green) caused by similar damage to that seen in diabetes.

Diabetic eye disease shares many features with AMD, with the growth of abnormal and leaky blood vessels common to both. Current treatments are not effective for all patients and have significant side effects, which means developing gene delivery to control the growth of abnormal and leaky blood vessels is an attractive option (Bainbridge et al 2003).

We are also investigating the role of oxygen in diabetic eye disease (Lange et al 2011), as disturbances to the delivery and usage of oxygen caused by diabetes are an important factor in the damaging growth of new blood vessels. We have shown that a molecule that helps regulate how cells respond to a lack of oxygen, known as HIF-1, plays a crucial role in the growth of abnormal and leaky blood vessels (Mowat et al 2010). Together these results show the important role that the control of oxygen levels in the retina plays in diabetic eye disease as well as in AMD and may help identify new drug targets.

We have shown proof-of-concept that gene delivery of the sFlt1 gene can reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels in a diabetes disease model (Bainbridge et al 2002). A clinical trial of AAV-sFlt1 delivery is now being carried out by a group in Australia

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