Gene therapy for the treatment of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa.
Martinez-Fernandez De La Camara C., Nanda A., Salvetti AP., Fischer MD., MacLaren RE.
Introduction: X-linked retinitis pigmentosa caused by mutations in the retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator (RPGR) gene is the most common form of recessive RP. The phenotype is characterised by its severity and rapid disease progression. Gene therapy using adeno-associated viral vectors is currently the most promising therapeutic approach. However, the construction of a stable vector encoding the full-length RPGR transcript has previously proven to be a limiting step towards gene therapy clinical trials. Recently however, a codon optimised version of RPGR has been shown to increase the stability and fidelity of the sequence, conferring a therapeutic effect in murine and canine animal models. Areas covered: This manuscript reviews the natural history of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa and the research performed from the discovery of the causative gene, RPGR, to the preclinical testing of potential therapies that have led to the initiation of three clinical trials. Expert opinion: X-linked retinitis pigmentosa is an amenable disease to be treated by gene therapy. Codon optimisation has overcome the challenge of designing an RPGR vector without mutations, and with a therapeutic effect in different animal models. With the RPGR gene therapy clinical trials still in the early stages, the confirmation of the safety, tolerability and potency of the therapy is still ongoing.