The Future Looks Brighter After 25 Years of Retinal Gene Therapy

Alberto Auricchio*, Alexander J. Smith, Robin R. Ali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The first report of in vivo gene delivery to the retina dates back to 1987 when a retroviral vector was injected intraocularly in newborn mice. Later came the observation that retinal cells could be successfully transduced using adenoviral and then adeno-associated and lentiviral vectors. By 2000, it had become clear that the eye, compared to other organs and tissues, provides a number of advantages for in vivo gene therapy with regard to safety, efficacy, and route to clinical application. This has prompted the development of many successful proof-of-concept studies in animal models. The demonstration that sight could be restored in a large-animal model with a congenital form of blindness was a major landmark that opened the door to the first-in-human trials for recessively inherited blinding conditions. With these first human studies demonstrating safety as well as some efficacy, retinal gene therapy has now come of age. Rapid clinical development has highlighted various new challenges, including the treatment of patients with advanced photoreceptor degeneration or dominantly inherited retinal dystrophies and those with defects in large genes. Yet, given the progress over the last 25 years, a bright future is expected for retinal gene therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)982-987
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Gene Therapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • AAV
  • eye
  • ocular gene therapy trials


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