Dear EURETINA Members,
A very warm welcome to the August 3rd, 2015 edition of EURETINA’s web-based digital magazine, “EURETINA Brief”. EURETINA are delighted to continue our delivery of up to date summary briefs on a range of topics of interest to retinal specialists and researchers across Europe. This resource is designed to accommodate the very busy schedules of all our members by providing them with a short overview of some new developments and announcements in our field over recent weeks.
As in previous issues we have incorporated a feedback section where you can comment on any of the news items or articles under discussion and we very much welcome all contributions. Previous articles and issues can be found in the archive section on the left hand panel.
The current issue highlights a number of research activities, clinical milestones and business developments in our field, including the publication of results from a genome-wide association study in diabetic retinopathy (DR), led by scientists at Flinders University, Australia, reporting the first association of a genetic locus on human chromosome 17 with DR; announcement of Phase II clinical trial data for a novel peptide therapy tested in patients with vitreomacular traction (VMT) or vitreomacular adhesion (VMA), and; notification from Applied Genetic Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ: AGTC) and Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) of a collaborative partnership to develop gene therapies for ophthalmic disease. According to the companies, the collaboration will focus on the development of therapeutic programs for X-linked Retinoschisis (XLRS) and a pre-clinical candidate for the treatment of X-Linked Retinitis Pigmentosa (XLRP).
Finally, our feature bio-ophthalmology article reports on US-based research highlighting the rescue of a retinal degeneration by the reprogramming of rods into cones. The study used a well-characterized retinal transcription factor to re-direct rods to a cone cell fate. The result of the cellular reprogramming reduced rod photoreceptor cell death in a rhodopsin knock-out model of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The results of the research, notwithstanding the loss of rod cell function and potential consequent night-blindness, suggest that maintaining a rod photoreceptor cell architecture may be sufficient to slow or halt cone cell degeneration.
As always, increased interaction by you with the EURETINA web community serves to expand your professional network and keep you up to date with the latest initiatives, activities and research in your field. Our hope is that such cross-fertilisation in an active web-based platform will lead to increased collaborative opportunities and ultimately to improved patient care. All readers are invited to submit comments or responses to any of the stories featured and we look forward to hearing from you over the coming month.
Dr. Gearóid Tuohy, EURETINA