Penn Vet | News & Events

News & Events


Penn Vet's Division of External Retinal Therapies is often in the news. Check back often to read the latest articles on our research.

– 2019 –

LRIT3-CSNB image, Penn Vet Experimental Retinal Therapies 

Mutation in LRIT3 underlies a canine model of stationary night blindness

Investigators from the Division of ExpeRTs have identified a mutation in the LRIT3 gene responsible for congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB) in a new canine model. Identification of the molecular cause for canine CSNB that affects ON-bipolar cell function opens up possibilities to develop new approaches of gene therapy to target cell populations that are in the mid retina.

Learn more about this new naturally-occurring canine model of CSNB...

Timing of Gene Therapy is critical to success 

Timing of Gene Therapy is critical to success

An FDA-approved gene therapy for Leber congenital amaurosis, an inherited vision disorder with a childhood onset and progressive nature, has improved patients’ sight. But new research conducted by investigators from the Division of ExpeRTs on this blinding condition underscores the importance of defining the time-window for long-term therapeutic benefit.

Learn more about timing of gene therapy for blindness in dogs...


– 2018 –

Scheie Eye Vision 

Leading the Fight Against Macular Degeneration

A long-term collaboration between Division of ExpeRTs investigators from PennVet and Scheie Eye Institute to develop a gene therapy for a form of inherited macular degeneration caused by mutations in the BEST-1 gene was featured in Scheie Vision, the institute’s annual report.

Download the article from 'Scheie Vision' (PDF)... 
Learn more about the collaboration between Penn Vet and Scheie Eye Institute...
Restore Vision News 

Multidisciplinary team to develop stem cell-based approaches to restore vision

Investigators from the Division of ExpeRTs are collaborating with Dr. David Gamm’s group (University of Wisconsin) to develop a stem-cell-based strategy to replace photoreceptors and treat blindness in dogs.

Learn more about this stem-cell-based approach to treat blindness in dogs...
Dr. Aguirre and Dr. Susan Hockfield, AAAS 

Dr. Gustavo Aguirre recognized as AAAS fellow

Division of ExpeRTs investigator, Dr. Gustavo Aguirre (PennVet Professor of Ophthalmology and Medical Genetics) was recognized as AAAS fellow for his distinguished contributions to the field of inherited blindness.

Read about this distinction awarded to Dr. Aguirre...
Knocking Down Blindness

Knocking down Blindness: a novel gene therapy for autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP)

Investigators from the Divisions of ExpeRTs together with collaborators from the University of Florida have developed a gene therapy capable of both knocking down and replacing rhodopsin, the most commonly mutated gene in patients affected with adRP. This approach was protective in dogs affected with a similar condition.

Read this article on protecting dogs afflicted with adRP...
Read the NIH article...

– 2017 –

Drs. Aguirre and Fliesler 

Dr. Gustavo Aguirre awarded the 2017 Proctor Medal

Division of ExpeRTs investigator, Dr. Gustavo Aguirre (PennVet Professor of Ophthalmology and Medical Genetics) received the 2017 Proctor medal award in recognition for his long-term contribution to the field of retinal diseases and therapies.

Watch Dr. Aguirre’s award lecture...
Read the article about Dr. Aguirre... 

Inflammation and retinal degeneration 

Inflammation during retinal degeneration

A study conducted by Division of ExpeRTs investigators shows that signaling pathways associated with the innate immune system are activated during late stage disease in dogs with inherited retinal degenerations, and thus identifies potential molecular targets for development of novel therapies.

Learn more about target therapy for inherited blinding diseases... 
Macular Degeneration 

Identification of the underlying cause of a form of macular degeneration

Division of ExpeRTs investigators from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Dental School identify BEST disease is caused by that loss of microvilli on the surface of RPE cells result in a loose connection with photoreceptors.

Learn more about the underlying cause of a form of macular degeneration... 

– 2016 –

Retinal Cells Regenerate 

Before retinal cells die, they regenerate

Division of ExpeRTs investigators have found that in at least three canine retinal diseases, photoreceptor cells proliferate before blindness takes hold.

Learn more about this research on regeneration of retinal cells...

 

Beltran receives ARVO PrizeDr. William Beltran awarded the ARVO Foundation’s 2016 Pfizer Ophthalmics Carl Camras Translational Research Award

Director of the Division of ExpeRTs, Dr. William Beltran (PennVet Professor of Ophthalmology) received this award in recognition for his contribution at better understanding X-linked retinitis pigmentosa and developing a gene therapy for this early and severe form of inherited blindness.

Read more about Dr. Beltran and this prestigious award... 
 

Dr. Gustavo Aguirre awarded the 2016 Louis Braille Award

Division of ExpeRTs investigator, Dr. Gustavo Aguirre (PennVet Professor of Ophthalmology and Medical Genetics) was awarded the 2016 Louis Braille Award by the Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in recognitions for his innovative research and treatment of inherited blinding diseases.

Read more about Dr. Aguirre and the Louis Braille Award... 

– 2015 –

William Beltran, gene therapy for retinal blindness 

Gene therapy for X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) halts vision loss in late stage disease

Investigators from the Division of ExpeRTs and Scheie Eye Institute that previously showed rescue of photoreceptors in dogs affected with a form of XLRP have now successfully demonstrated that this gene therapy is stable for more than 2 years and effective even when treatment is delivered after substantial loss of photoreceptors has occurred.

Learn more about this Penn Vet study on blindness...
Read the NIH story...

Cone Trouble 

Cone Trouble

Investigators from the Division of ExpeRTs identify two naturally-occurring mutations in dogs that cause day blindness by disrupting molecular channels involved in vision.

Learn more about genetic mutations and blindness...


– 2014 –

 

Anatomical Discovery by Penn Team Gives Insight into Blinding Retinal Diseases

University of Pennsylvania vision scientists report that dogs, too, have an area of their retina that strongly resembles the human fovea. What’s more, this retinal region is susceptible to genetic blinding diseases in dogs just as it is in humans.

Learn more about this insight into blinding diseases... 


– 2013 –

Drs. Gustavo Aguirre and William Beltran awarded the Foundation Fighting Blindness Board of Directors Award  

Drs. Gustavo Aguirre and William Beltran awarded the Foundation Fighting Blindness Board of Directors Award

Division of ExpeRTs investigators, Drs. Aguirre and Beltran were presented the FFB’s Board of Directors award at the VISION 2013 national conference in recognition for their research that is advancing treatments and cures for retinal degenerative diseases.

Read about this award to ExpeRTs investigators...
Read the Penn Vet press release...

macular dystrophy and gene therapy  

Penn Researchers take a first step toward a macular dystrophy gene therapy

Investigators from the Division of ExpeRTs, identify an optimal viral vector serotype for future gene therapy studies aimed restoring at a normal copy of the gene (BEST1) that is mutated in an inherited form of macular dystrophy called Best disease.

Read about macular dystrophy and gene therapy...

Dr. Aguirre and Vernon Hill 

Dr. Gustavo Aguirre winner of the 2013 International Canine Health Award

Dr. Gustavo Aguirre, Professor of Ophthalmology & Medical Genetics received the International Canine Health Award from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for his contribution to the advancement of research into canine eye diseases. The Kennel Club Charitable Trust is the UK’s largest organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the health and welfare of all dogs. International Canine Health Awards are underwritten by a major gift from Vernon and Shirley Hill.

Read about Dr. Aguirre winning the International Canine Health Award...


– 2012 –

RPGR Gene Tx fig #2 for NEI 

First gene therapy for a common form of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa shows promise in dogs

A consortium of investigators from PennVet’s Division of ExpeRTs, the Scheie Eye Institute, and the University of Florida have developed a gene therapy for the most common cause of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) caused by mutations in the RPGR gene. This novel therapy prevents disease onset and halts ongoing photoreceptor death in dogs carrying two distinct mutations in this same gene.

Read the Penn Today article...
Read the article from NEI/NIH...

Dr. Gustavo Aguirre 

Dr. Gustavo Aguirre elected member of the Institute of Medicine

Dr. Gustavo Aguirre, Professor of Ophthalmology & Medical Genetics was elected as a new member of the Institute of Medicine. Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, IOM has become recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues. With their election, members make a commitment to volunteer their service on IOM committees, boards, and other activities.

 

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