The Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology

Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology:

Issue 1, January/February 2017 Review Article

The Pathway From Genes to Gene Therapy in Glaucoma: A Review of Possibilities for Using Genes as Glaucoma Drugs

Borrás, Teresa



Author Information


From the Department of Ophthalmology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Reprints: Teresa Borrás, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, 4109C Neuroscience Research Building CB 7041, 105 Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7041. E-mail: tborras@med.unc.edu.

 


Abstract


Treatment of diseases with gene therapy is advancing rapidly. The use of gene therapy has expanded from the original concept of re-placing the mutated gene causing the disease to the use of genes to con-trol nonphysiological levels of expression or to modify pathways known to affect the disease. Genes offer numerous advantages over conventional drugs. They have longer duration of action and are more specific. Genes can be delivered to the target site by naked DNA, cells, nonviral, and viral vectors. The enormous progress of the past decade in molecular bi-ology and delivery systems has provided ways for targeting genes to the intended cell/tissue and safe, long-term vectors. The eye is an ideal organ for gene therapy. It is easily accessible and it is an immune-privileged site. Currently, there are clinical trials for diseases affecting practically every tissue of the eye, including those to restore vision in patients with Leber congenital amaurosis. However, the number of eye trials compared with those for systemic diseases is quite low (1.8%). Nevertheless, judg-ing by the vast amount of ongoing preclinical studies, it is expected that such number will increase considerably in the near future. One area of great need for eye gene therapy is glaucoma, where a long-term gene drug would eliminate daily applications and compliance issues. Here, we review the current state of gene therapy for glaucoma and the possibilities for treating the trabecular meshwork to lower intraocular pressure and the retinal ganglion cells to protect them from neurodegeneration.



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