Rod-derived Cone Viability Factor
Coordinator: José-Alain SAHEL
Project Number: 241683
EC contribution: € 3,000,000.00
Project website: http://www.rdcvf.eu/
The discovery of RdCVF (Rod-derived Cone Viability Factor) has provided a clue to understanding the secondary loss of cone photoreceptors (and of central and light-adapted vision) following the degeneration of rod photoreceptors as a consequence of mutations expressed only in rods in most cases of rod-cone degenerations (or retinitis pigmentosa : RP). In two different rodent models of RP, intraocular administration of RdCVF increased significantly cone survival and function. Given the unparalleled genetic heterogeneity of retinal dystrophies, including RP, the delivery of RdCVF appears as a promising, mutation independent strategy for preserving central vision, even at late stages of the disease, opening a wide window for neuroprotection. RdCVF, discovered by team 1, and developed by team 5, has been granted by the EMEA and FDA the Orphan Status. Reaching the stage of phase I/II trials with RdCVF protein therapy in RP implies several key preclinical milestones:
- the production of GMP grade proteins and their functional validation in in vitro and in vivo assays,
- pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies determining, the dosage, half life, site of injection of the protein, while
- toxicology studies will be performed in normal and mutant mice and rats, and in monkeys. In parallel, based on the knowledge gained by partner 1 on tryparedoxins (the family of RdCVF) and on RdCVF sequence and paralogs, attempts will be made to
- optimize the therapeutic protein. In order to reduce the injected dose and to provide a steady level of RdCVF, innovative delivery systems such as nanoparticules will be developed.
These steps, conducted by renown academic partners in the fields of neuroprotection and toxicology, experienced industrials and subcontractants, will lead to a proof of safety and concept in advanced RP. This may provide a novel, widely applicable approach to an untreatable blinding condition, while hinting towards extension to other neurodegenerative diseases.