Retinitis Pigmentosa – The Potential for Mutation-Independent Therapy – Dr. José-Alain Sahel
In this episode, we interview Dr. José-Alain Sahel, the chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, director of the UPMC Eye Center, and the Eye and Ear Foundation Endowed Chair of Ophthalmology. Dr. Sahel provides an in-depth overview of optogenetics, including the current state of research and clinical trials. A detailed discussion about his team’s recent publication in Nature Medicine highlights the potential sight-restoring impact that novel optogenetic therapies can have for patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa and potentially other degenerative retinal conditions.
About the guest:
Dr. José-Alain Sahel
Professor at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Director of UPMC Eye Center
Chair of Ophthalmology at the Eye and Ear Foundation
Dr. José-Alain Sahel is the chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, director of the UPMC Eye Center, and the Eye and Ear Foundation Endowed Chair of Ophthalmology. Dr. Sahel studied medicine at University Denis Diderot in Paris, and Ophthalmology at University Louis Pasteur Strasbourg University. He received his medical degree with a Medal of the Faculty of Paris and obtained his specialty certification in ophthalmology. He completed a residency in Ophthalmology at the Louis Pasteur University Hospital in Strasbourg. He also was a research fellow at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and a visiting scholar in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. Dr. Sahel founded and directed from 2008 to 2020 the Vision Institute in Paris and is currently an exceptional class professor at the Sorbonne’s medical school.
Dr. Sahel is known worldwide for his expertise in vision restoration techniques. He has developed several interventions— including stem cell implantation, gene therapy, innovative pharmacologic approaches, and retinal prostheses—for retinitis pigmentosa, other retinal dystrophies, age-related macular degeneration, and other vision impairments that currently are untreatable e.g. Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. Over the past decade he has led pioneering efforts in optogenetic vision restoration, which has the potential to help patients who are blind or visually impaired as a result of a genetic defect. His team has developed novel high-resolution imaging technologies for retinal and optic nerve conditions. Dr. Sahel also brings a strong neuroscience perspective to ophthalmology research, such as exploring the application of brain-computer interface technology.
Dr. Sahel is a co-inventor on more than 40 patents, several of which have led to start-up companies including Fovea Pharmaceuticals which Dr. Sahel founded and later was acquired by Sanofi Aventis. He also is a scientific co-founder of GenSight Biologics Inc., Pixium Vision Inc., Tilak Healthcare, Chronolife, Prophesee, Sparing Vision. He is a member of 11 editorial boards, including the Journal of Clinical Investigation and Science Translational Medicine.