RetroSense Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company, is developing a gene therapy using algae that is intended to restore vision to those suffering from blindness as a result of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The technology, which uses a component of green algae, was developed by Zhuo-Hua Pan from Wayne State University’s School of Medicine.
To overcome the loss of photoreceptors as a result of RP, RetroSense will inject algae DNA into the retina, conferring new light sensitivity. The expectation is to improve or even restore vision, albeit likely in monochrome or black and white, since green algae cells are only sensitive to the color blue. Trials with mice have shown an increased sensitivity to light.
The technology has been granted Orphan Drug status by the FDA, which includes a seven-year period of market exclusivity, tax credits and reduced regulatory fees.