Having raised more than $725 million to advance critical research and vision-saving treatments for people with inherited retinal diseases, the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) has announced its strong presence and its research at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting, reporting on the latest advancements in genetic, cellular, and pharmaceutical therapies to overcome retinal conditions that affect as many as 150 million people around the world.
Attracting 11,000 attendees in 2018, the ARVO annual meeting is one of the world’s largest global gatherings of ophthalmology researchers and industry experts. The meeting will take place April 29 through May 3 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“We are delighted to report on the tremendous progress being made by FFB-funded scientists and clinical researchers to eradicate blinding retinal diseases,” Stephen Rose, PhD, FFB’s chief scientific officer, said in a FFB news release. “It is an exciting and historical moment in the field with the advent of Luxturna, the first FDA-approved gene therapy for the eye, and several dozen clinical trials underway.”
FFB activities at ARVO include:
5th Annual Retinal Cell and Gene Therapy Innovation Summit (Sold Out)
To be held on Friday, April 27, the day before officially ARVO begins, and co-hosted by Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, the summit includes 37 presentations on the latest commercial, clinical, and/or translational therapy development efforts underway for inherited retinal diseases. Sponsors include: Spark Therapeutics, AGTC, REGENXBIO and NightStar Therapeutics. The sold-out event has more than 200 registrants. A summary report of the event will be posted at FFB’s Eye on the Cure blog: www.FightBlindness.org/blog.
How Foundations Can Enhance Clinical Trial Enrollment and Advance Patients as Partners
Saturday, April 28, 3:45-4:00 p.m. HST, Room 316A (pre-ARVO education course, separate fee)
Stephen Rose, PhD, FFB’s chief research officer will discuss how FFB has engaged patients to boost clinical trial enrollment, and opportunities to educate patients on how trials for specific treatments benefit the entire community of people with retinal diseases.
Proctor Award: From Observations in the Retina Clinic to Insights into Pathophysiology
Sunday, April 29, 10:45-11:30 a.m. HST, Ballrooms BC
Sam Jacobson, MD, PhD, and Artur Cideciyan, PhD, FFB-funded researchers at the Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania, are world leaders in clinical research for inherited retinal diseases. Among their many groundbreaking efforts, they played a key role in advancing RPE65 gene therapy into and through human studies. In addition to receiving the prestigious Proctor Award, they will deliver what is sure to be an insightful lecture on clinical diagnosis and the new era of vision-saving therapeutics.
Optogenetics for Vision Restoration — Translation
Sunday, April 29, 3:37-3:54 p.m. HST, Room 314
Optogenetics is an innovative approach for restoring vision to people who are completely blind from diseases like retinitis pigmentosa, regardless of the gene causing their vision loss. Deniz Dalkara, PhD, at the Institut de la Vision in Paris, will present FFB-funded research to move this approach into a clinical trial sponsored by GenSight.
Genetic Testing Adds Research and Clinical Value to a Retinal Degeneration Registry
Wednesday, May 2, 12:45-1:00 p.m. HST, Room 316C (paper session 4472)
Kari Branham, genetic counselor at the University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Institute, will discuss how FFB’s genetic testing program and global patient registry (www.MyRetinaTracker.org) are boosting retinal-disease research and patient access to clinical trials and studies.
FFB’s 2018 VISIONS Conference in San Diego
Additionally, FFB is holding its annual VISIONS Conference in San Diego, June 21-23, 2018, for patients, families, researchers, and companies wanting to learn about the latest in retinal research, coping and access strategies, and other resources for people with inherited retinal diseases. Visit www.FightBlindness.org/VISIONS/ or call 1-800-683-5555 to register.