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Publication
Journal: New England Journal of Medicine
June/4/2008
Abstract
Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA) is a group of inherited blinding diseases with onset during childhood. One form of the disease, LCA2, is caused by mutations in the retinal pigment epithelium-specific 65-kDa protein gene (RPE65). We investigated the safety of subretinal delivery of a recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) carrying RPE65 complementary DNA (cDNA) (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00516477 [ClinicalTrials.gov]). Three patients with LCA2 had an acceptable local and systemic adverse-event profile after delivery of AAV2.hRPE65v2. Each patient had a modest improvement in measures of retinal function on subjective tests of visual acuity. In one patient, an asymptomatic macular hole developed, and although the occurrence was considered to be an adverse event, the patient had some return of retinal function. Although the follow-up was very short and normal vision was not achieved, this study provides the basis for further gene therapy studies in patients with LCA.
Publication
Journal: New England Journal of Medicine
June/4/2008
Abstract
Early-onset, severe retinal dystrophy caused by mutations in the gene encoding retinal pigment epithelium-specific 65-kD protein (RPE65) is associated with poor vision at birth and complete loss of vision in early adulthood. We administered to three young adult patients subretinal injections of recombinant adeno-associated virus vector 2/2 expressing RPE65 complementary DNA (cDNA) under the control of a human RPE65 promoter. There were no serious adverse events. There was no clinically significant change in visual acuity or in peripheral visual fields on Goldmann perimetry in any of the three patients. We detected no change in retinal responses on electroretinography. One patient had significant improvement in visual function on microperimetry and on dark-adapted perimetry. This patient also showed improvement in a subjective test of visual mobility. These findings provide support for further clinical studies of this experimental approach in other patients with mutant RPE65. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00643747 [ClinicalTrials.gov].).
Publication
Journal: Human Gene Therapy
April/28/2009
Abstract
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is a group of autosomal recessive blinding retinal diseases that are incurable. One molecular form is caused by mutations in the RPE65 (retinal pigment epithelium-specific 65-kDa) gene. A recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 2 (rAAV2) vector, altered to carry the human RPE65 gene (rAAV2-CBSB-hRPE65), restored vision in animal models with RPE65 deficiency. A clinical trial was designed to assess the safety of rAAV2-CBSB-hRPE65 in subjects with RPE65-LCA. Three young adults (ages 21-24 years) with RPE65-LCA received a uniocular subretinal injection of 5.96 x 10(10) vector genomes in 150 microl and were studied with follow-up examinations for 90 days. Ocular safety, the primary outcome, was assessed by clinical eye examination. Visual function was measured by visual acuity and dark-adapted full-field sensitivity testing (FST); central retinal structure was monitored by optical coherence tomography (OCT). Neither vector-related serious adverse events nor systemic toxicities were detected. Visual acuity was not significantly different from baseline; one patient showed retinal thinning at the fovea by OCT. All patients self-reported increased visual sensitivity in the study eye compared with their control eye, especially noticeable under reduced ambient light conditions. The dark-adapted FST results were compared between baseline and 30-90 days after treatment. For study eyes, sensitivity increases from mean baseline were highly significant (p < 0.001); whereas, for control eyes, sensitivity changes were not significant (p = 0.99). Comparisons are drawn between the present work and two other studies of ocular gene therapy for RPE65-LCA that were carried out contemporaneously and reported.
Publication
Journal: Experimental Eye Research
September/5/1996
Abstract
The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) plays a critical role in the development and maintenance of adjacent photoreceptors in the vertebrate retina. This study describes the development and characterization of ARPE-19, a spontaneously arising human RPE cell line with normal karyology which forms polarized epithelial monolayers on porous filter supports. The cell line was established by selective trypsinization of a primary RPE culture resulting in a uniform population of highly epithelial cells which exhibit a strong growth potential. To determine the extent of biochemical differentiation, the expression of the RPE-specific markers CRALBP and RPE65 was examined by Northern analysis. A single 1.6 kb CRALBP mRNA transcript and a single 2.8 kb RPE65 transcript were detected in samples of ARPE-19 total mRNA. The expression of CRALBP protein in ARPE-19 cell lysate was detected by Western blot analysis and immunocytochemistry was used to detect CRALBP throughout the cytoplasm of most, but not all, cells in confluent cultures. The essential criteria for monolayer formation were determined experimentally and it was found that ARPE-19 cells exhibit morphological polarization when plated on laminin-coated Transwell-COL filters in medium with a low serum content. The time course of tight-junction formation was determined by recording the transepithelial resistance of monolayers and reached a maximum of 50-100 omega cm2 after 4 weeks of culture. Barrier properties of ARPE-19 monolayers were evaluated by measuring the flux of 3H-inulin from the apical to the basolateral compartment of cell culture chambers. Finally, ARPE-19 clonal sublines were generated by serial dilution in an attempt to produce a subline with a high transepithelial resistance (TER). The morphology of the sublines was variable and the cloned cells exhibited a tendency to senesce in culture, confirming that this cell line is not transformed. No subline monolayers developed a TER greater than those recorded for the parent cells. Our results demonstrate that ARPE-19 has structural and functional properties characteristic of RPE cells in vivo and suggest that this cell line will be valuable for in vitro studies of retinal pigment epithelium physiology.
Publication
Journal: Nature Genetics
May/31/2001
Abstract
The relationship between the neurosensory photoreceptors and the adjacent retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) controls not only normal retinal function, but also the pathogenesis of hereditary retinal degenerations. The molecular bases for both primary photoreceptor and RPE diseases that cause blindness have been identified. Gene therapy has been used successfully to slow degeneration in rodent models of primary photoreceptor diseases, but efficacy of gene therapy directed at photoreceptors and RPE in a large-animal model of human disease has not been reported. Here we study one of the most clinically severe retinal degenerations, Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). LCA causes near total blindness in infancy and can result from mutations in RPE65 (LCA, type II; MIM 180069 and 204100). A naturally occurring animal model, the RPE65-/- dog, suffers from early and severe visual impairment similar to that seen in human LCA. We used a recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) carrying wild-type RPE65 (AAV-RPE65) to test the efficacy of gene therapy in this model. Our results indicate that visual function was restored in this large animal model of childhood blindness.
Publication
Journal: Nature Genetics
December/21/1998
Abstract
Mutation of RPE65 can cause severe blindness from birth or early childhood, and RPE65 protein is associated with retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) vitamin A metabolism. Here, we show that Rpe65-deficient mice exhibit changes in retinal physiology and biochemistry. Outer segment discs of rod photoreceptors in Rpe65-/- mice are disorganized compared with those of Rpe65+/+ and Rpe65+/- mice. Rod function, as measured by electroretinography, is abolished in Rpe65-/- mice, although cone function remains. Rpe65-/- mice lack rhodopsin, but not opsin apoprotein. Furthermore, all-trans-retinyl esters over-accumulate in the RPE of Rpe65-/- mice, whereas 11-cis-retinyl esters are absent. Disruption of the RPE-based metabolism of all-trans-retinyl esters to 11-cis-retinal thus appears to underlie the Rpe65-/- phenotype, although cone pigment regeneration may be dependent on a separate pathway.
Publication
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
October/24/2008
Abstract
The RPE65 gene encodes the isomerase of the retinoid cycle, the enzymatic pathway that underlies mammalian vision. Mutations in RPE65 disrupt the retinoid cycle and cause a congenital human blindness known as Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). We used adeno-associated virus-2-based RPE65 gene replacement therapy to treat three young adults with RPE65-LCA and measured their vision before and up to 90 days after the intervention. All three patients showed a statistically significant increase in visual sensitivity at 30 days after treatment localized to retinal areas that had received the vector. There were no changes in the effect between 30 and 90 days. Both cone- and rod-photoreceptor-based vision could be demonstrated in treated areas. For cones, there were increases of up to 1.7 log units (i.e., 50 fold); and for rods, there were gains of up to 4.8 log units (i.e., 63,000 fold). To assess what fraction of full vision potential was restored by gene therapy, we related the degree of light sensitivity to the level of remaining photoreceptors within the treatment area. We found that the intervention could overcome nearly all of the loss of light sensitivity resulting from the biochemical blockade. However, this reconstituted retinoid cycle was not completely normal. Resensitization kinetics of the newly treated rods were remarkably slow and required 8 h or more for the attainment of full sensitivity, compared with <1 h in normal eyes. Cone-sensitivity recovery time was rapid. These results demonstrate dramatic, albeit imperfect, recovery of rod- and cone-photoreceptor-based vision after RPE65 gene therapy.
Publication
Journal: The Lancet
November/23/2009
Abstract
BACKGROUND
Gene therapy has the potential to reverse disease or prevent further deterioration of vision in patients with incurable inherited retinal degeneration. We therefore did a phase 1 trial to assess the effect of gene therapy on retinal and visual function in children and adults with Leber's congenital amaurosis.
METHODS
We assessed the retinal and visual function in 12 patients (aged 8-44 years) with RPE65-associated Leber's congenital amaurosis given one subretinal injection of adeno-associated virus (AAV) containing a gene encoding a protein needed for the isomerohydrolase activity of the retinal pigment epithelium (AAV2-hRPE65v2) in the worst eye at low (1.5 x 10(10) vector genomes), medium (4.8 x 10(10) vector genomes), or high dose (1.5 x 10(11) vector genomes) for up to 2 years.
RESULTS
AAV2-hRPE65v2 was well tolerated and all patients showed sustained improvement in subjective and objective measurements of vision (ie, dark adaptometry, pupillometry, electroretinography, nystagmus, and ambulatory behaviour). Patients had at least a 2 log unit increase in pupillary light responses, and an 8-year-old child had nearly the same level of light sensitivity as that in age-matched normal-sighted individuals. The greatest improvement was noted in children, all of whom gained ambulatory vision. The study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00516477.
CONCLUSIONS
The safety, extent, and stability of improvement in vision in all patients support the use of AAV-mediated gene therapy for treatment of inherited retinal diseases, with early intervention resulting in the best potential gain.
BACKGROUND
Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Telethon, Research to Prevent Blindness, F M Kirby Foundation, Mackall Foundation Trust, Regione Campania Convenzione, European Union, Associazione Italiana Amaurosi Congenita di Leber, Fund for Scientific Research, Fund for Research in Ophthalmology, and National Center for Research Resources.
Publication
Journal: Progress in Retinal and Eye Research
October/31/2008
Abstract
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is the most severe retinal dystrophy causing blindness or severe visual impairment before the age of 1 year. Linkage analysis, homozygosity mapping and candidate gene analysis facilitated the identification of 14 genes mutated in patients with LCA and juvenile retinal degeneration, which together explain approximately 70% of the cases. Several of these genes have also been implicated in other non-syndromic or syndromic retinal diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa and Joubert syndrome, respectively. CEP290 (15%), GUCY2D (12%), and CRB1 (10%) are the most frequently mutated LCA genes; one intronic CEP290 mutation (p.Cys998X) is found in approximately 20% of all LCA patients from north-western Europe, although this frequency is lower in other populations. Despite the large degree of genetic and allelic heterogeneity, it is possible to identify the causative mutations in approximately 55% of LCA patients by employing a microarray-based, allele-specific primer extension analysis of all known DNA variants. The LCA genes encode proteins with a wide variety of retinal functions, such as photoreceptor morphogenesis (CRB1, CRX), phototransduction (AIPL1, GUCY2D), vitamin A cycling (LRAT, RDH12, RPE65), guanine synthesis (IMPDH1), and outer segment phagocytosis (MERTK). Recently, several defects were identified that are likely to affect intra-photoreceptor ciliary transport processes (CEP290, LCA5, RPGRIP1, TULP1). As the eye represents an accessible and immune-privileged organ, it appears to be uniquely suitable for human gene replacement therapy. Rodent (Crb1, Lrat, Mertk, Rpe65, Rpgrip1), avian (Gucy2D) and canine (Rpe65) models for LCA and profound visual impairment have been successfully corrected employing adeno-associated virus or lentivirus-based gene therapy. Moreover, phase 1 clinical trials have been carried out in humans with RPE65 deficiencies. Apart from ethical considerations inherently linked to treating children, major obstacles for the treatment of LCA could be the putative developmental deficiencies in the visual cortex in persons blind from birth (amblyopia), the absence of sufficient numbers of viable photoreceptor or RPE cells in LCA patients, and the unknown and possibly toxic effects of overexpression of transduced genes. Future LCA research will focus on the identification of the remaining causal genes, the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of disease in the retina, and the development of gene therapy approaches for different genetic subtypes of LCA.