Here’s What You’ll Learn at OIS Retina’s Emerging Science Session

Here’s What You’ll Learn at OIS Retina’s Emerging Science Session

OIS Retina, set to kick off next Friday, July 20, when the annual meeting of the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) starts in Vancouver, will have a new wrinkle this year: the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) Emerging Science Showcase. Representatives of three companies and one research lab will explore their work to develop therapies using adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors, RNA, and retinal regeneration in a session moderated by foundation COO Jason Menzo.

Of course, there’s more to OIS Retina than the opening session. This year’s program will also include the private-company showcase with eight companies, public-company showcase with five companies, a session on advances in retinal imaging, Andrew Gitkin of Piper Jaffray providing his update of public-market trends in ophthalmology, and a panel on financing moderated by co-chair William J. Link, PhD, of Versant Ventures – and that’s just the morning.

Afternoon panels will explore retinal drug delivery, combination therapies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema, and retinal gene therapy before the Masters of Retina session with Jim Mazzo, of Carl Zeiss Meditec, moderating.

Here’s a preview of who and what you’ll hear about during the FFB Emerging Science Showcase.

David Kirn, MD, CEO and co-founder of 4D Molecular Therapeutics (4DMT) will talk about the company’s R100 AAV vector to treat inherited retinal degenerations and dry AMD. Last year the company and FFB formed a partnership to develop intravitreal gene therapeutics for patients with these blinding conditions.

And earlier this year, 4DMT announced the expansion of its 2015 research agreement with Hoffmann-La Roche into a broad, long-term partnership to develop and commercialize multiple ophthalmology products. 4DMT will be responsible for vector discovery and optimization, product design and engineering, and preclinical and early-stage clinical development, including manufacturing, while Roche will conduct pivotal clinical trials and commercialize the new therapeutics globally. The first collaboration program is 4DMT’s intravitreally delivered choroideremia candidate, 4D-110.

John G. Flannery, PhD, professor of neurobiology and instructor of vision science at the University of California, Berkeley, will talk about next-generation approaches to optogenetics and the work Photoswitch Therapeutics is doing to develop an AAV-delivered optogenetic gene therapy for degenerative retinal disease.

Daniel de Boer, CEO of ProQR, will explore the company’s development of what it calls transformative RNA medicines for the treatment of severe genetic rare diseases, including three in ophthalmology: QR-110 for Leber’s congenital amaurosis; QXR-504 for treatment of Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy; and QXR-1011 for Stargardt’s disease.

Thomas A. Reh, PhD, professor of biological structure at the University of Washington, Seattle, will talk about retinal regeneration and photoreceptor reprogramming. Dr. Reh oversees the “Reh Lab” that researches retinal development and regeneration. Dr. Reh’s team is studying several different aspects of retinal development including the early patterning of the optic vesicle, the control of retinal progenitor proliferation, the onset of neurogenesis, and the regulation of photoreceptor differentiation. Dr. Reh and his research associates are also investigating the potential for retinal regeneration and retinal stem cells in a variety of species.

For questions about this article, please contact Richard Mark Kirkner at