Gene Therapy for Retinal Disease: What Lies Ahead.
Gene therapy in simple terms can be defined as a medical treatment that exerts its effects using molecules of DNA or RNA within cells. Most traditional drugs act by mechanisms that include binding to cell surface receptors, inhibiting enzymes in intracellular pathways or by modifying transcription. These approaches rely to some extent on a normal genetic make-up of the cell in the final common pathway, which raises significant challenges in diseases that are caused by specific gene mutations. An alternative gene therapy approach to change the behaviour of cells at the most fundamental level by one single genetic modification is therefore potentially very powerful and wide ranging. This paper presents an overview of retinal gene therapy at the current time and highlights the future therapeutic potential for a number of diseases that are currently incurable.