New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Drug development target for retinal dystrophies

Date:
December 1, 2020
Source:
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Summary:
Researchers report that deleting one of the inhibitors of the RPE65 gene in a mouse model that carries a human disease mutation prevents degeneration of cone photoreceptors that are used for daytime high-resolution color vision.
Share:
FULL STORY

A team of LSU Health New Orleans researchers reports for the first time that deleting one of the inhibitors of the RPE65 gene in a mouse model that carries a human disease mutation prevents degeneration of cone photoreceptors that are used for daytime high-resolution color vision. Their findings are published in PNAS available here.

More than 100 DNA variants in the RPE65 gene are reported as pathogenic mutations causing retinal degenerative diseases. They include a group of inherited childhood blinding diseases called Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). While a new gene therapy may improve vision for some with RPE65 gene mutations, there is currently no effective therapy that arrests progressive retinal degeneration in LCA.

Previously, the researchers identified three inhibitors of RPE65. The one involved in the current study is called fatty acid transport protein 4 (FATP4). They found that the survival of cone photoreceptors is increased nearly 10-fold in the mouse model of LCA lacking FATP4 in the retina. They also discovered that partial reduction of FATP4 in the retina can improve the survival and visual function of cone photoreceptors. These findings establish FATP4 as a promising therapeutic target to preserve daytime color vision in patients.

"The role of FATP4 in disease progression of retinal dystrophies associated with RPE65 mutations was completely unknown," notes Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, Boyd Professor, Ernest and Yvette C. Villere Endowed Chair for Retinal Degenerative Diseases and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. "This study is the first to uncover that FATP4 plays a pivotal role in photoreceptor survival and function in retinal dystrophies."

According to the National Institutes of Health, Leber congenital amaurosis primarily affects the retina, the specialized tissue at the back of the eye that detects light and color. Beginning in infancy, people with LCA typically have severe visual impairment. The National Library of Medicine says Leber congenital amaurosis occurs in 2 to 3 per 100,000 newborns. It is one of the most common causes of blindness in children.

"Our findings have allowed us to envision a strategy to mitigate the cone photoreceptor degeneration and vision loss in patients with RPE65 mutations as well as in other mutations," adds Minghao Jin, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Ophthalmology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.

All of the authors are at LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence. They are Drs. Songhua Li, William C. Gordon, Nicolas G. Bazan, and Minghao Jin.

This study was supported by grants from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine Research Enhancement Fund, and the EENT Foundation of New Orleans.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Songhua Li, William C. Gordon, Nicolas G. Bazan, Minghao Jin. Inverse correlation between fatty acid transport protein 4 and vision in Leber congenital amaurosis associated with RPE65 mutation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020; 202012623 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2012623117

Cite This Page:

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. "Drug development target for retinal dystrophies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 December 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201201124052.htm>.
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. (2020, December 1). Drug development target for retinal dystrophies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201201124052.htm
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. "Drug development target for retinal dystrophies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201201124052.htm (accessed April 20, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily

RELATED STORIES