A number of sight-threatening diseases are caused by the inability of the retina to detect light due to damaged photoreceptor cells. Optogenetics uses gene therapy to introduce a gene encoding for a light-sensitive protein into specific target cells in the retina enabling them to respond to light stimulation in place of damaged photoreceptor cells.
Retinal optogenetics involves (i) the insertion of a gene encoding a protein that confers light responsiveness into target cells and, (ii) the use of a medical device to deliver light at the desired intensity and wavelength in order to stimulate the transduced retinal cells so as to transmit the signal to the brain.
We believe that optogenetics can be applied effectively to stimulate the retina of blind patients and obtain a meaningful sensory response in their visual cortex.
We have chosen to target RP as the first indication using our optogenetics technology. Our GS030 product candidate uses optogenetics with an external wearable medical device in the form of biomimetic goggles to provide light source and stimulation algorithms.
Optoelectronic external wearable medical device: the Biomimetic goggles
The natural range of light sensitivity of human photoreceptor cells is larger than that of channelrhodopsins. To achieve adequate stimulation of transduced retinal cells, we combine our gene therapy-based treatment with an external wearable medical device, which allows the amplification of the image at specific optimal wavelength of the selected opsin.
The device is composed of:
- A visual interface integrating an asynchronous time-based image sensor, or ATIS, also called a neuromorphic video camera and a digital micromirror array, or DMD, driven by a microprocessor, that convey the visual information signal and light to the macula; an
- A pocket computer the size of a portable telephone connected to an optoelectronic stimulation device that processes the visual information and controls a light source in order to encode and amplify corresponding light signals at a specific wavelength.