Jan 20, 2023

Usher Syndrome Research Advances

Retinal Disease Research Advances

Recent developments in research on Usher Syndrome.

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SparingVision Plans Clinical Trial to Evaluate Sight-Saving Protein for RP

A spin-off of the Institut de la Vision, SparingVision was established to clinically develop and commercialize a protein known as rod-derived cone-viability factor (RdCVF). The emerging therapy performed well in several previous lab studies funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Scientists demonstrated that RdCVF prevented or slowed the degeneration of cones, the cells in the retina that provide central and color vision and enable people to read, drive, and recognize faces. RdCVF is naturally secreted by rods, the retinal cells that provide night and peripheral vision. The company has received authorization from the FDA to launch a Phase 1/2 clinical trial for people with retinitis pigmentosa.

Foundation Fighting Blindness Conducting RUSH2A Natural Study for People with USH2A Mutations

The Foundation Fighting Blindness has launched a natural history study for people with mutations in the USH2A gene, which are leading causes of Usher syndrome and retinitis pigmentosa. A major goal of the study, known as RUSH2A, is to better understand the course of vision loss in people with USH2A mutations, so that researchers can design successful clinical trials for potential therapies and identify patients for the treatment studies. More than 100 patients are enrolled at approximately 20 sites in the US, Canada, and Europe.

Nacuity Conducting Clinical Trial for Oral Antioxidant Therapy

Dallas-based Nacuity has launched a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in Australia for its oral antioxidant
therapy. The trial is for people with Usher syndrome. The Foundation Fighting Blindness is investing up to $7.5 million to advance the promising, emerging drug for retinitis pigmentosa, Usher syndrome, and related conditions. Known as N-acetylcysteine-amide (NACA), the molecule is designed to slow vision loss by protecting retinal cells from oxidative stress. In previous Foundation-funded lab studies at Johns Hopkins University, NACA slowed retinal degeneration in rodent models of RP.

Foundation Launches USH1F Natural History Study

The Foundation is partnering with the Usher 1F Collaborative, a family-founded nonprofit driving research for Usher syndrome type 1F (USH1F), to launch a natural history study, the Rate of Progression in PCDH15-Related Retinal Degeneration in Usher Syndrome 1F (RUSH1F). Additional funding for the project will be provided by the Marjorie C. Adams Trust. USH1F is a subtype of Usher syndrome caused by mutations in the gene PCDH15.

Atsena Therapeutics Developing USH1B Gene Therapy

Atsena Therapeutics is developing a dual vector AAV gene therapy for people with mutations in MYO7A, the gene, when mutated, causes Usher syndrome 1B. The Foundation is funding Atsena through its RD Fund, a venture philanthropy fund for emerging therapies in, or moving toward, clinical trials.

Small Molecule for USH3A Moving Toward Clinical Trial

Dr. Farhan is completing pre-IND toxicity studies to advance a novel small-molecule therapy for USH3A into a Phase 1 clinical trial. The emerging drug works by stabilizing the misfolded USH3A protein (clarin-1) and enabling it to better move to its target location in retinal cells, thereby striving to preserve structure and function.