Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics

A special issue of Biomolecules (ISSN 2218-273X). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Medicine".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 August 2021) | Viewed by 41009

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Pre-Clinical Ocular Research Volunteer Faculty, UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA
Interests: retina; neurodegenerative eye diseases; retinal degeneration
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The eye is the most exposed part of the central nervous system and is considered a ‘window’ to the brain. Examining the development and maintenance of the anterior and posterior ocular structures and associated complex genetics has provided new knowledge of basic cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying syndromic and non-syndromic forms of ocular diseases. Research in non-ocular systems has also revealed common underlying themes and pathways that have assisted in developing novel tools and strategies to overcome blinding diseases and improve the quality of life of patients. This Special Issue will include original manuscripts and review articles that focus on the genetic bases of ocular diseases and on delineating the basic mechanisms underlying development, maintenance, and degeneration of ocular structures and function. The research can also include clinical presentations of ocular diseases, generating small and large animal models of ocular diseases, and designing preclinical and translational paradigms for developing innovative therapeutics for debilitating diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, leber congenital amaurosis, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, Usher Syndrome, Stargardt Disease, Joubert Syndrome, and Senior-Loken Syndrome.

Prof. Dr. Hemant Khanna
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Eye
  • Retina
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Ciliopathies
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Leber congenital amaurosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Usher syndrome

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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16 pages, 4012 KiB  
Article
Pharmacological Inhibition of the VCP/Proteasome Axis Rescues Photoreceptor Degeneration in RHOP23H Rat Retinal Explants
by Merve Sen, Oksana Kutsyr, Bowen Cao, Sylvia Bolz, Blanca Arango-Gonzalez and Marius Ueffing
Biomolecules 2021, 11(10), 1528; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11101528 - 16 Oct 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2505
Abstract
Rhodopsin (RHO) misfolding mutations are a common cause of the blinding disease autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP). The most prevalent mutation, RHOP23H, results in its misfolding and retention in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Under homeostatic conditions, misfolded proteins are [...] Read more.
Rhodopsin (RHO) misfolding mutations are a common cause of the blinding disease autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP). The most prevalent mutation, RHOP23H, results in its misfolding and retention in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Under homeostatic conditions, misfolded proteins are selectively identified, retained at the ER, and cleared via ER-associated degradation (ERAD). Overload of these degradation processes for a prolonged period leads to imbalanced proteostasis and may eventually result in cell death. ERAD of misfolded proteins, such as RHOP23H, includes the subsequent steps of protein recognition, targeting for ERAD, retrotranslocation, and proteasomal degradation. In the present study, we investigated and compared pharmacological modulation of ERAD at these four different major steps. We show that inhibition of the VCP/proteasome activity favors cell survival and suppresses P23H-mediated retinal degeneration in RHOP23H rat retinal explants. We suggest targeting this activity as a therapeutic approach for patients with currently untreatable adRP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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19 pages, 13260 KiB  
Article
Proinflammatory Pathways Are Activated in the Human Q344X Rhodopsin Knock-In Mouse Model of Retinitis Pigmentosa
by T.J. Hollingsworth, Meredith G. Hubbard, Hailey J. Levi, William White, Xiangdi Wang, Raven Simpson, Monica M. Jablonski and Alecia K. Gross
Biomolecules 2021, 11(8), 1163; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11081163 - 6 Aug 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3049
Abstract
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a hereditary disease of the retina that results in complete blindness. Currently, there are very few treatments for the disease and those that exist work only for the recessively inherited forms. To better understand the pathogenesis of RP, multiple [...] Read more.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a hereditary disease of the retina that results in complete blindness. Currently, there are very few treatments for the disease and those that exist work only for the recessively inherited forms. To better understand the pathogenesis of RP, multiple mouse models have been generated bearing mutations found in human patients including the human Q344X rhodopsin knock-in mouse. In recent years, the immune system was shown to play an increasingly important role in RP degeneration. By way of electroretinography, optical coherence tomography, funduscopy, fluorescein angiography, and fluorescent immunohistochemistry, we show degenerative and vascular phenotypes, microglial activation, photoreceptor phagocytosis, and upregulation of proinflammatory pathway proteins in the retinas of the human Q344X rhodopsin knock-in mouse. We also show that an FDA-approved pharmacological agent indicated for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is able to halt activation of pro-inflammatory signaling in cultured retinal cells, setting the stage for pre-clinical trials using these mice to inhibit proinflammatory signaling in an attempt to preserve vision. We conclude from this work that pro- and autoinflammatory upregulation likely act to enhance the progression of the degenerative phenotype of rhodopsin Q344X-mediated RP and that inhibition of these pathways may lead to longer-lasting vision in not only the Q344X rhodopsin knock-in mice, but humans as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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10 pages, 3804 KiB  
Article
VEGF as a Direct Functional Regulator of Photoreceptors and Contributing Factor to Diabetes-Induced Alteration of Photoreceptor Function
by Jianyan Hu, Meili Zhu, Dai Li, Qiang Wu and Yun-Zheng Le
Biomolecules 2021, 11(7), 988; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11070988 - 5 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2362
Abstract
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a major therapeutic target for blood–retina barrier (BRB) breakdown in diabetic retinopathy (DR), age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and other hypoxic retinal vascular disorders. To determine whether VEGF is a direct regulator of retinal neuronal function and its [...] Read more.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a major therapeutic target for blood–retina barrier (BRB) breakdown in diabetic retinopathy (DR), age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and other hypoxic retinal vascular disorders. To determine whether VEGF is a direct regulator of retinal neuronal function and its potential role in altering vision during the progression of DR, we examined the immediate impact of recombinant VEGF (rVEGF) on photoreceptor function with electroretinography in C57BL6 background wild-type (WT) and Akita spontaneous diabetic mice. Shortly after intravitreal injections, rVEGF caused a significant reduction of scotopic ERG a-wave and b-wave amplitudes and photopic ERG b-wave amplitudes in a dose-dependent manner in dark-adapted 1.5-mo-old WT mice. Compared with WT controls, 5-mo-old Akita spontaneous diabetic mice demonstrated a significant reduction in scotopic ERG a-wave and b-wave amplitudes and photopic ERG b-wave amplitudes. However, the effect of rVEGF altered photoreceptor function in WT controls was diminished in 5-mo-old Akita spontaneous diabetic mice. In conclusion, our results suggest that VEGF is a direct functional regulator of photoreceptors and VEGF up-regulation in DR is a contributing factor to diabetes-induced alteration of photoreceptor function. This information is critical to the understanding of the therapeutic effect and to the care of anti-VEGF drug-treated patients for BRB breakdown in DR, AMD, and other hypoxic retinal vascular disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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18 pages, 3245 KiB  
Article
HK2 Mediated Glycolytic Metabolism in Mouse Photoreceptors Is Not Required to Cause Late Stage Age-Related Macular Degeneration-Like Pathologies
by Shun-Yun Cheng, Anneliese Malachi, Joris Cipi, Shan Ma, Richard S. Brush, Martin-Paul Agbaga and Claudio Punzo
Biomolecules 2021, 11(6), 871; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11060871 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4128
Abstract
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a multifactorial disease of unclear etiology. We previously proposed that metabolic adaptations in photoreceptors (PRs) play a role in disease progression. We mimicked these metabolic adaptations in mouse PRs through deletion of the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) protein [...] Read more.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a multifactorial disease of unclear etiology. We previously proposed that metabolic adaptations in photoreceptors (PRs) play a role in disease progression. We mimicked these metabolic adaptations in mouse PRs through deletion of the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) protein TSC1. Here, we confirm our previous findings by deletion of the other complex protein, namely TSC2, in rod photoreceptors. Similar to deletion of Tsc1, mice with deletion of Tsc2 in rods develop AMD-like pathologies, including accumulation of apolipoproteins, migration of microglia, geographic atrophy, and neovascular pathologies. Subtle differences between the two mouse models, such as a significant increase in microglia activation with loss of Tsc2, were seen as well. To investigate the role of altered glucose metabolism in disease pathogenesis, we generated mice with simulation deletions of Tsc2 and hexokinase-2 (Hk2) in rods. Although retinal lactate levels returned to normal in mice with Tsc2-Hk2 deletion, AMD-like pathologies still developed. The data suggest that the metabolic adaptations in PRs that cause AMD-like pathologies are independent of HK2-mediated aerobic glycolysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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11 pages, 1541 KiB  
Article
Povidone-Iodine Attenuates Viral Replication in Ocular Cells: Implications for Ocular Transmission of RNA Viruses
by Sneha Singh, Onkar B. Sawant, Shahzad I. Mian and Ashok Kumar
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 753; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050753 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3442
Abstract
Several RNA viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, can infect or use the eye as an entry portal to cause ocular or systemic diseases. Povidone-Iodine (PVP-I) is routinely used during ocular surgeries and eye banking as a cost-effective disinfectant due to its broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, including against [...] Read more.
Several RNA viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, can infect or use the eye as an entry portal to cause ocular or systemic diseases. Povidone-Iodine (PVP-I) is routinely used during ocular surgeries and eye banking as a cost-effective disinfectant due to its broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, including against viruses. However, whether PVP-I can exert antiviral activities in virus-infected cells remains elusive. In this study, using Zika (ZIKV) and Chikungunya (CHIKV) virus infection of human corneal and retinal pigment epithelial cells, we report antiviral mechanisms of PVP-I. Our data showed that PVP-I, even at the lowest concentration (0.01%), drastically reduced viral replication in corneal and retinal cells without causing cellular toxicity. Antiviral effects of PVP-I against ZIKV and CHIKV were mediated by direct viral inactivation, thus attenuating the ability of the virus to infect host cells. Moreover, one-minute PVP-I exposure of infected ocular cells drastically reduced viral replication and the production of infectious progeny virions. Furthermore, viral-induced (CHIKV) expression of inflammatory genes (TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8, and IL1β) were markedly reduced in PVP-I treated corneal epithelial cells. Together, our results demonstrate potent antiviral effects of PVP-I against ZIKV and CHIKV infection of ocular cells. Thus, a low dose of PVP-I can be used during tissue harvesting for corneal transplants to prevent potential transmission of RNA viruses via infected cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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13 pages, 1339 KiB  
Article
VEGF Mediates Retinal Müller Cell Viability and Neuroprotection through BDNF in Diabetes
by Yun-Zheng Le, Bei Xu, Ana J. Chucair-Elliott, Huiru Zhang and Meili Zhu
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 712; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050712 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 3034
Abstract
To investigate the mechanism of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in Müller cell (MC) viability and neuroprotection in diabetic retinopathy (DR), we examined the role of VEGF in MC viability and BDNF production, and the effect of BDNF [...] Read more.
To investigate the mechanism of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in Müller cell (MC) viability and neuroprotection in diabetic retinopathy (DR), we examined the role of VEGF in MC viability and BDNF production, and the effect of BDNF on MC viability under diabetic conditions. Mouse primary MCs and cells of a rat MC line, rMC1, were used in investigating MC viability and BDNF production under diabetic conditions. VEGF-stimulated BDNF production was confirmed in mice. The mechanism of BDNF-mediated MC viability was examined using siRNA knockdown. Under diabetic conditions, recombinant VEGF (rVEGF) stimulated MC viability and BDNF production in a dose-dependent manner. rBDNF also supported MC viability in a dose-dependent manner. Targeting BDNF receptor tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TRK-B) with siRNA knockdown substantially downregulated the activated (phosphorylated) form of serine/threonine-specific protein kinase (AKT) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), classical survival and proliferation mediators. Finally, the loss of MC viability in TrkB siRNA transfected cells under diabetic conditions was rescued by rBDNF. Our results provide direct evidence that VEGF is a positive regulator for BDNF production in diabetes for the first time. This information is essential for developing BDNF-mediated neuroprotection in DR and hypoxic retinal diseases, and for improving anti-VEGF treatment for these blood–retina barrier disorders, in which VEGF is a major therapeutic target for vascular abnormalities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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10 pages, 14750 KiB  
Article
Regulation of Phosphoinositide Levels in the Retina by Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase 1B and Growth Factor Receptor-Bound Protein 14
by Raju V. S. Rajala, Austin McCauley, Rahul Rajala, Kenneth Teel and Ammaji Rajala
Biomolecules 2021, 11(4), 602; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11040602 - 19 Apr 2021
Viewed by 2145
Abstract
Protein tyrosine kinases and protein phosphatases play a critical role in cellular regulation. The length of a cellular response depends on the interplay between activating protein kinases and deactivating protein phosphatases. Protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) and growth factor receptor-bound protein 14 (Grb14) [...] Read more.
Protein tyrosine kinases and protein phosphatases play a critical role in cellular regulation. The length of a cellular response depends on the interplay between activating protein kinases and deactivating protein phosphatases. Protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) and growth factor receptor-bound protein 14 (Grb14) are negative regulators of receptor tyrosine kinases. However, in the retina, we have previously shown that PTP1B inactivates insulin receptor signaling, whereas phosphorylated Grb14 inhibits PTP1B activity. In silico docking of phosphorylated Grb14 and PTP1B indicate critical residues in PTP1B that may mediate the interaction. Phosphoinositides (PIPs) are acidic lipids and minor constituents in the cell that play an important role in cellular processes. Their levels are regulated by growth factor signaling. Using phosphoinositide binding protein probes, we observed increased levels of PI(3)P, PI(4)P, PI(3,4)P2, PI(4,5)P2, and PI(3,4,5)P3 in PTP1B knockout mouse retina and decreased levels of these PIPs in Grb14 knockout mouse retina. These observations suggest that the interplay between PTP1B and Grb14 can regulate PIP metabolism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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21 pages, 50458 KiB  
Article
Human Cadaveric Donor Cornea Derived Extra Cellular Matrix Microparticles for Minimally Invasive Healing/Regeneration of Corneal Wounds
by Arun Chandru, Parinita Agrawal, Sanjay Kumar Ojha, Kamalnath Selvakumar, Vaishnavi K. Shiva, Tanmay Gharat, Shivaram Selvam, Midhun Ben Thomas, Mukesh Damala, Deeksha Prasad, Sayan Basu, Tuhin Bhowmick, Virender Singh Sangwan and Vivek Singh
Biomolecules 2021, 11(4), 532; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11040532 - 2 Apr 2021
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 3956
Abstract
Biological materials derived from extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins have garnered interest as their composition is very similar to that of native tissue. Herein, we report the use of human cornea derived decellularized ECM (dECM) microparticles dispersed in human fibrin sealant as an accessible [...] Read more.
Biological materials derived from extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins have garnered interest as their composition is very similar to that of native tissue. Herein, we report the use of human cornea derived decellularized ECM (dECM) microparticles dispersed in human fibrin sealant as an accessible therapeutic alternative for corneal anterior stromal reconstruction. dECM microparticles had good particle size distribution (≤10 µm) and retained the majority of corneal ECM components found in native tissue. Fibrin–dECM hydrogels exhibited compressive modulus of 70.83 ± 9.17 kPa matching that of native tissue, maximum burst pressure of 34.3 ± 3.7 kPa, and demonstrated a short crosslinking time of ~17 min. The fibrin–dECM hydrogels were found to be biodegradable, cytocompatible, non-mutagenic, non-sensitive, non-irritant, and supported the growth and maintained the phenotype of encapsulated human corneal stem cells (hCSCs) in vitro. In a rabbit model of anterior lamellar keratectomy, fibrin–dECM bio-adhesives promoted corneal re-epithelialization within 14 days, induced stromal tissue repair, and displayed integration with corneal tissues in vivo. Overall, our results suggest that the incorporation of cornea tissue-derived ECM microparticles in fibrin hydrogels is non-toxic, safe, and shows tremendous promise as a minimally invasive therapeutic approach for the treatment of superficial corneal epithelial wounds and anterior stromal injuries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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Review

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13 pages, 602 KiB  
Review
Advances in Ophthalmic Optogenetics: Approaches and Applications
by Philipp P. Prosseda, Matthew Tran, Tia Kowal, Biao Wang and Yang Sun
Biomolecules 2022, 12(2), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom12020269 - 8 Feb 2022
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 4882
Abstract
Recent advances in optogenetics hold promise for vision restoration in degenerative eye diseases. Optogenetics refers to techniques that use light to control the cellular activity of targeted cells. Although optogenetics is a relatively new technology, multiple therapeutic options are already being explored in [...] Read more.
Recent advances in optogenetics hold promise for vision restoration in degenerative eye diseases. Optogenetics refers to techniques that use light to control the cellular activity of targeted cells. Although optogenetics is a relatively new technology, multiple therapeutic options are already being explored in pre-clinical and phase I/II clinical trials with the aim of developing novel, safe, and effective treatments for major blinding eye diseases, such as glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa. Optogenetic approaches to visual restoration are primarily aimed at replacing lost or dysfunctional photoreceptors by inserting light-sensitive proteins into downstream retinal neurons that have no intrinsic light sensitivity. Such approaches are attractive because they are agnostic to the genetic causes of retinal degeneration, which raises hopes that all forms of retinal dystrophic and degenerative diseases could become treatable. Optogenetic strategies can also have a far-reaching impact on translational research by serving as important tools to study the pathogenesis of retinal degeneration and to identify clinically relevant therapeutic targets. For example, the CRY-CIBN optogenetic system has been recently applied to animal models of glaucoma, suggesting a potential role of OCRL in the regulation of intraocular pressure in trabecular meshwork. As optogenetic strategies are being intensely investigated, it appears crucial to consider the opportunities and challenges such therapies may offer. Here, we review the more recent promising optogenetic molecules, vectors, and applications of optogenetics for the treatment of retinal degeneration and glaucoma. We also summarize the preliminary results of ongoing clinical trials for visual restoration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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11 pages, 974 KiB  
Review
The Ocular Gene Delivery Landscape
by Bhubanananda Sahu, Isha Chug and Hemant Khanna
Biomolecules 2021, 11(8), 1135; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11081135 - 1 Aug 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 5195
Abstract
The eye is at the forefront of developing therapies for genetic diseases. With the FDA approval of the first gene-therapy drug for a form of congenital blindness, numerous studies have been initiated to develop gene therapies for other forms of eye diseases. These [...] Read more.
The eye is at the forefront of developing therapies for genetic diseases. With the FDA approval of the first gene-therapy drug for a form of congenital blindness, numerous studies have been initiated to develop gene therapies for other forms of eye diseases. These examinations have revealed new information about the benefits as well as restrictions to using drug-delivery routes to the different parts of the eye. In this article, we will discuss a brief history of gene therapy and its importance to the eye and ocular delivery landscape that is currently being investigated, and provide insights into their advantages and disadvantages. Efficient delivery routes and vehicle are crucial for an effective, safe, and longer-lasting therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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Other

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59 pages, 3408 KiB  
Systematic Review
A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of Interventional Clinical Trial Studies for Gene Therapies for the Inherited Retinal Degenerations (IRDs)
by Gearóid P. Tuohy and Roly Megaw
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 760; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050760 - 19 May 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 4787
Abstract
IRDs are one of the leading causes of visual loss in children and young adults. Mutations in over 271 genes lead to retinal dysfunction, degeneration and sight loss. Though no cure exists, gene augmentation therapy has brought hope to the field. This systematic [...] Read more.
IRDs are one of the leading causes of visual loss in children and young adults. Mutations in over 271 genes lead to retinal dysfunction, degeneration and sight loss. Though no cure exists, gene augmentation therapy has brought hope to the field. This systematic review sought to assess the efficacy of available gene therapy treatments for IRDs. Databases and public resources were searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomised studies of interventions (NRSIs). Standard methodological procedures were used, including a risk-of-bias assessment. One RCT and five NRSIs were assessed, all for adeno-associated virus two (AAV2)-mediated treatment of RPE-specific 65 kDa (RPE65)-associated LCA (Leber congenital amaurosis). Five outcomes were reported for meta-analyses. Modest improvements in visual acuity, ambulatory navigation/mobility testing or central retinal thickness was observed. There was significant improvement in red and blue light full-field stimulus testing (FST) (red light risk ratio of 1.89, treated v control, p = 0.04; and blue light risk ratio of 2.01, treated v control, p = 0.001). Study design assessment using a ROBIN-I tool (Cochrane Library) showed risk-of-bias judgement to be “low/moderate”, whilst there were “some concerns” for the RCT using a RoB-2 tool (Cochrane Library). Although comparison by meta-analysis is compromised by, amongst other issues, a variable amount of vector delivered in each trial, FST improvements demonstrate a proof-of-principle for treating IRDs with gene therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocular Diseases and Therapeutics)
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