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Ophthalmology Stories


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Correcting night blindness in dogs

Researchers in the School of Veterinary Medicine and colleagues have developed a gene therapy that restores dim-light vision in dogs with a congenital form of night blindness, offering hope for treating a similar condition in people.

Dr. William Beltran

Penn Vet’s William Beltran to Study New Stem Cell Therapy for Retinitis Pigmentosa with Second Round Funding from Fighting Blindness Canada

Dr. William A. Beltran and Dr. David M. Gamm have been awarded CAD$725,000 from Fighting Blindness Canada’s Restore Vision 20/20 program to continue their ground-breaking research into cell replacement therapy for retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited retinal disease.

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Novel gene therapy platform speeds search for ways to cure blindness

A newly developed single-cell RNA sequencing technique enables researchers to quickly identify an optimal vector for delivering therapeutic genetic material to treat vision disorders, and perhaps other genetic conditions.

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Turning back the clock on a severe vision disorder

Gustavo Aguirre and William Beltran, veterinary ophthalmologists and vision scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, have studied a wide range of different retinal blinding disorders. But the one caused by mutations in the NPHP5 gene, leading to a form of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), is one of the most severe.

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Penn Vet Scientists Receive Two of Six Penn Center for Innovation Annual Commercialization Awards

[December 9, 2019; PHILADELPHIA, PA – Three researchers from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Vet) are among the recipients of the annual Innovation awards from the Penn Center for Innovation (PCI), which recognizes the six most significant scientific discoveries or partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania during the preceding twelve months.

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Identifying a gene for canine night blindness

Creating an effective gene therapy for inherited diseases requires three key steps. First, scientists must identify and characterize the disease. Second, they must find the gene responsible. And finally, they must find a way to correct the impairment.

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Is treatment forever? Success of gene therapy for inherited blindness depends on timing

Nearly two decades ago, a gene therapy restored vision to Lancelot, a Briard dog who was born with a blinding disease. This ushered in a period of hope and progress for the field of gene therapy aimed at curing blindness, which culminated in the 2017 approval of a gene therapy that improved vision in people with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), a rare, inherited form of blindness closely related to the condition seen in Lancelot. It represents the first FDA-approved gene therapy for an inherited genetic disease.

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Four Faculty Have Been Promoted to Full Professorship at Penn Vet

Four faculty members at Penn Vet have been promoted to full professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Advanced Medicine: William A. Beltran, DVM, MSc, PhD; Margret L. Casal, DVM, Dr phil II, PhD; Wilfried Mai, Dr. Méd Vét, MSc, PhD; and Charles H. Vite, DVM, PhD.

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Commonalities in Late Stages of Different Inherited Blinding Diseases Suggest Targets for Therapy

Gene therapy holds promise for treating a variety of diseases, including some inherited blinding conditions. But for a gene therapy to be effective, one must know the precise gene responsible for a given individual’s disorder and develop a tailored treatment. For diseases that may be caused by mutations in many different genes, developing individual gene therapy approaches can be prohibitively costly and time-intensive to pursue.

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Penn Vet to Host Translational Retinal Research & Therapies Symposium

The Translational Retinal Research & Therapies Symposium brings together a group of internationally recognized scientists and clinician scientists from the veterinary and human medical fields. They will present the latest research in areas of retinal disease gene discovery, disease mechanisms, viral vector development and applications, translational studies in animal models, and clinical applications.

At right, Dr. Gustavo Aguirre receives the Proctor Medal from ARVO Board Trustee Steven J. Fliesler

2017 ARVO Award Recipients Honored at Annual Meeting

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is pleased to announce its 2017 ARVO Achievement Award recipients. These award recipients will be acknowledged at the ARVO 2017 Annual Meeting, May 7 – 11, in Baltimore, MD.

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Penn: Blinding Disease in Canines and Humans Shares Causative Gene, Pathology

Ciliopathies are diseases that affect the cilia, sensory organelles that most mammalian cells possess and which play a critical role in many biological functions. One such disease is Senior Løken Syndrome, a rare condition that can involve both a severe kidney disease and the blinding disease Leber congenital amaurosis, or LCA.

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William Beltran Honored for Blindness Research

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology has recognized William Beltran with the 2016 Pfizer Ophthalmics Carl Camras Translational Research Award.

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Before Retinal Cells Die, They Regenerate

Until relatively recently, the dogma in neuroscience was that neurons, including the eye’s photoreceptor cells, do not regenerate. But, in some species, neurons can be stimulated to divide.

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Dr. Gustavo Aguirre Receives Louis Braille Award

The Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired recognized Gustavo D. Aguirre with the 2016 Louis Braille Award for innovative research and treatment of inherited blinding diseases.

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Penn Study Stops Vision Loss in Late-stage Canine X-linked Retinitis Pigmentosa

Three years ago, a team from the University of Pennsylvania announced that they had cured X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, a blinding retinal disease, in dogs. Now they’ve shown that they can cure the canine disease over the long term, even when the treatment is given after half or more of the affected photoreceptor cells have been destroyed.

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Penn Vet-Temple Team Characterizes Genetic Mutations Linked to a Form of Blindness

Achromatopsia is a rare, inherited vision disorder that affects the eye’s cone cells, resulting in problems with daytime vision, clarity and color perception. It often strikes people early in life, and currently there is no cure for the condition.

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Penn Vet Team Identifies a Form of Congenital Night Blindness in Dogs

People with congenital stationary night blindness, or CSNB, have normal vision during the day but find it difficult or impossible to distinguish objects in low light. This rare condition is present from birth and can seriously impact quality of life, especially in locations and conditions where artificial illumination is not available.

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Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital Welcomes Three New Clinicians

The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) announces the appointment of Brady Beale, VMD, as Staff Ophthalmologist, Elaine Holt, DVM, as Clinical Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, and Michael Mison, DVM, as Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery.

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Penn Vet’s Gustavo D. Aguirre Wins the Sanford and Susan Greenberg Prize for Ending Blindness

Penn Vet's Dr/ Gustavo D. Aguirre is the recipient of the Sanford and Susan Greenberg End Blindness Outstanding Achievement Prize which distinguishes scientists for their groundbreaking medical contributions to eradicate blindness.

Dr. William Beltran

Five Penn faculty elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Five faculty members from Penn have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), one of the nation’s highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, including Penn Vet's Dr. William Beltran.

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Knockdown and replace: A gene therapy twofer to treat blindness

The last year has seen milestones in the gene therapy field, with FDA approvals to treat cancer and an inherited blinding disorder. New findings from a team led by University of Pennsylvania vision scientists, who have taken gene therapies into clinical trials in the past, are proving successful, this time treating a form of retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that progressively robs people of their night and peripheral vision before blindness develops.

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Penn Vet’s Gustavo D. Aguirre Formally Recognized as AAAS Fellow for Distinguished Contributions to the Field of Inherited Blindness

Dr. Gustavo D. Aguirre, V'68 was recognized by the Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on February 17, 2018.

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Cloudy to Clear: Cataract Surgery Gives Diabetic Puppy New Sight

Like many puppies, Tucker loves a good chase. But the 9-month-old chocolate Labrador wasn’t always able to see a squirrel dart across his path or a ball thrown in his direction. Until recently, cataracts caused by juvenile onset diabetes limited the puppy’s vision in both eyes.

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Sight for Sore Eyes

Elsa always had runny eyes. The two-year-old cat had been rescued as a kitten by Penn Vet student Jennifer Bortree. Elsa was treated at the time for feline herpesvirus (FHV-1), one of the most common causes of upper respiratory infections in cats. Among other symptoms, FHV-1 infection often impacts the eyes.

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The Royal Treatment: Penn Vet-Philadelphia Zoo Collaboration Restores Condor's Sight

Princess wasn’t acting like herself. The Andean condor, one of the Philadelphia Zoo’s oldest animal residents, wasn’t flying and was eating less. Lead Bird Keeper Toni Flowers noticed the changes. “It also seemed like she had vision problems.”