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Home » News and Events » NEI Investment in RPE65-LCA Research Continues to Produce Promising Results

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NEI Statement

NEI Investment in RPE65-LCA Research Continues to Produce Promising Results

October 24, 2009

NEI support leading to gene therapy clinical trials for people with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) consisted of significant efforts by investigators in the intramural laboratories at the NEI as well as many extramural investigators at universities funded by NEI grants. People with the LCA condition are born with severe visual impairment or develop vision loss early in childhood.

The NEI has actively supported LCA research for over 17 years, since the RPE65 gene was identified. Areas of study included basic science studies of the gene and vector development, observational clinical research of various forms of LCA, development and testing of animal models (rodents and dogs), genetics, pathophysiology of LCA, and gene therapy in animal models.

The October 24, 2009, online version of Lancet, reports findings from a Phase I clinical trial designed to assess the effect of gene therapy on retinal and visual function in people with LCA. Key findings include:

These results contribute to a growing body of evidence about the safety of gene therapy in treating people with LCA. The study is registered with, number NCT00516477.

For background information on gene therapy and LCA, go to:

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The National Eye Institute (NEI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is the federal government's lead agency for vision research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness. For more information, visit the NEI Website at

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) - The Nation's Medical Research Agency - includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

Department of Health and Human Services NIH, the National Institutes of Health