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Gene therapy prevents photoreceptor death and preserves retinal function in a Bardet-Biedl syndrome mouse model.

Simons D.L., Boye S.L., Hauswirth W.W., Wu S.M.

Patients with Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) experience severe retinal degeneration as a result of impaired photoreceptor transport processes that are not yet fully understood. To date, there is no effective treatment for BBS-associated retinal degeneration, and blindness is imminent by the second decade of life. Here we report the development of an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector that rescues rhodopsin mislocalization, maintains nearly normal-appearing rod outer segments, and prevents photoreceptor death in the Bbs4-null mouse model. Analysis of the electroretinogram a-wave indicates that rescued rod cells are functionally indistinguishable from wild-type rods. These results demonstrate that gene therapy can prevent retinal degeneration in a mammalian BBS model.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108:6276-6281(2011) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]