Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics opens at the University of Pennsylvania

Date Posted: 12/31/2014

Established in an effort for the University of Pennsylvania to build on its previous successes in developing novel therapies for the personalized diagnosis and treatment of retinal and ocular disorders, its recently opened Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics (CAROT) is intended to be an interdisciplinary center for visual impairment research that will unite experts from different fields and promote advocacy for patients.

Penn researchers began working closely with investigators at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in 2007, and, in the past seven years, have demonstrated successes in improving vision using gene therapy for patients with the rare inherited eye disorder known as Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA), in which infants are born with severe visual impairment. Through gene therapy, a healthy version of the gene RPE65, which causes LCA, was implanted in the retinas of 12 patients, all of whom reported improved vision in an initial study. Through its advanced research facilities and services and with a focus on integration and partnership with others in the field of ophthalmology, neuroscience, cell biology, and genetics, Penn hopes that CAROT researchers will make similar breakthroughs for other eye disorders and advance therapies for the treatment of visual impairments. "A program like this unites all necessary approaches to researching and treating retinal and ocular disorders," said Jean Bennett, F. M. Kirby professor of ophthalmology and director of CAROT. "An important premise of CAROT is to make the technologies that effectively advance research and therapies for the visually impaired and blind available to physicians, scientists, and patients."

CAROT also expects to engage biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in the research of and therapeutic development for ophthalmic genetic disorders, and to build a patient-focused advocacy program to guide clinical access. In addition, the center's leaders aim to develop educational programs to ensure that the next generation of scientists, physicians, and investigators are exposed to retinal and ocular disorders and provided access to new therapeutics. For more information, contact: Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics, F.M. Kirby Center for Molecular Ophthalmology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 310 Stellar-Chance Labs, 422 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104; website: www.med.upenn.edu/carot.

Contact: (Contact information is listed in the news item.)

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