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Optogenetic strategies to restore vision in patients who are blind from end-stage retinal degenerations aim to render remaining retinal cells light sensitive once photoreceptors are lost. Here, we assessed long-term functional outcomes following subretinal delivery of the human melanopsin gene (OPN4) in the rd1 mouse model of retinal degeneration using an adeno-associated viral vector. Ectopic expression of OPN4 using a ubiquitous promoter resulted in cellular depolarization and ganglion cell action potential firing. Restoration of the pupil light reflex, behavioral light avoidance, and the ability to perform a task requiring basic image recognition were restored up to 13 mo following injection. These data suggest that melanopsin gene therapy via a subretinal route may be a viable and stable therapeutic option for the treatment of end-stage retinal degeneration in humans.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





11211 - 11216


gene therapy, human melanopsin, optogenetics, Animals, Dependovirus, Disease Models, Animal, Genetic Therapy, Humans, Mice, Inbred C3H, Retinal Degeneration, Rod Opsins, Vision, Ocular