Seminar: Optogenetic Approaches for Vision Restoration

Zhuo-Hua Pan, Edward T. and Ellen K. Dryer Endowed Professor; Professor of Dept. of Ophth., Vis. Anatomical Sciences; Scientific Director, Ligon Research Center of Vision, Kresge Eye Institute; Wayne State University School of Medicine; Wayne State University School of Medicine will be delivering a seminar on “Optogenetic Approaches for Vision Restoration” on Wednesday October 10th at 12:00pm in the  Moran Eye Center auditorium.  He will also deliver a Grand Rounds Presentation at 8:00am, also in the the Moran Eye Center auditorium.

Abstract: Severe loss of photoreceptor cells in inherited or acquired retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, can result in partial or complete blindness. My laboratory has been exploring and developing optogenetic approaches to treating blindness by expressing genetically encoded light sensors, such as channelrhodopsin- 2 (ChR2), in surviving inner retinal neurons to impart light sensitivity to retinas that lack photoreceptor cells. Proof-of-concept studies have demonstrated the feasibility of restoring retinal light responses and visually guided behaviors in animal models. Optogenetic therapy using ChR2 for vision restoration is currently in clinical trial. Our ongoing efforts focus on the development of better ChR variants and effective treatment strategies. In particular, we recently employed a transgenic blind mouse model combining with animal behavioral assays, which enables us to quantitatively assess the efficacy of different optogenetic tools and retinal targeting strategies, as well as to investigate the impact of retinal remodeling on optogenetic vision restoration.

Lasker/IRRF Report On Restoring Vision

Restoring Vision To The Blind

I participated in the Lasker/IRRF Initiative on Restoring Vision to the Blind in March 2014. It was a great session of research leaders working on various approaches to restore visual function lost by retinal degenerative disease. The purpose of the meeting was to identify the key issues hampering research progress and to develop innovative proposals to overcome these hurdles and accelerate research. The Initiative prepared a report of its findings that ARVO published as a special edition of its online journal Translation Vision Science and Technology. It can be viewed at

I am attaching the Table of Contents for the report, along with John Dowling’s introduction to give you an idea of the scope of the work discussed by participants.  If you want a pdf of the entire report, you can find it on the Lasker website at: . A print copy of the report is also available by writing to Meredith Graves as

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Notable Paper: Virally Delivered Channelrhodopsin-2 Safely and Effectively Restores Visual Function in Multiple Mouse Models of Blindness

This truly groundbreaking paper by M Mehdi Doroudchi, Kenneth P Greenberg, Jianwen Liu, Kimberly A Silka, Edward S Boyden, Jennifer A Lockridge, A Cyrus Arman, Ramesh Janani, Shannon E Boye, Sanford L Boye, Gabriel M Gordon, Benjamin C Matteo, Alapakkam P Sampath, William W Hauswirth and Alan Horsager demonstrates that channelrhodopsin-2, a cation channel from algae than can be gated/activated by light can restore both physiological and behavioral visual responses in mice with retinal degenerative disease.

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