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Restoring visual function to the blind retina with a potent, safe and long-lasting photoswitch.

Sci Rep. 2017 04 13;7:45487

Authors: Tochitsky I, Trautman J, Gallerani N, Malis JG, Kramer RH

Photoswitch compounds such as DENAQ confer light-sensitivity on endogenous neuronal ion channels, enabling photocontrol of neuronal activity without genetic manipulation. DENAQ treatment restores both retinal light responses and visual behaviors in rodent models of Retinitis pigmentosa. However, retinal photosensitization requires a high dose of DENAQ and disappears within several days after treatment. Here we report that BENAQ, an improved photoswitch, is 20-fold more potent than DENAQ and persists in restoring visual responses to the retina for almost 1 month after a single intraocular injection. Studies on mice and rabbits show that BENAQ is non-toxic at concentrations 10-fold higher than required to impart light-sensitivity. These favorable properties make BENAQ a potential drug candidate for vision restoration in patients with degenerative blinding diseases.

PMID: 28406473 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]