- Uveitis is a chronic inflammation of the uveal tract and a leading cause of blindness in horses
- Single dose of AAV-delivered gene therapy prevents development of autoimmune uveitis in a rat model
- Effectively inhibits intraocular inflammation without intraocular or systemic side effects
Noninfectious uveitis, chronic inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye, often leads to blindness in many mammalian species, notably humans and horses. Typical therapy is nonspecific, entailing daily treatment with topical corticosteroids, which have side effects and do not prevent a recurrence. Novel gene therapy for equine uveitis has been shown to prevent the development of uveitis in a well-established rat model.
Researchers at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University have invented an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector gene therapy that is delivered via a single intravitreal (IVT) injection. The novel treatment uses AAV to deliver cDNA for equine Interleukin 10, a naturally-occurring cytokine that suppresses autoimmune reactions including inflammation of the eye. The AAV‑Eq IL10 gene therapy significantly reduced symptoms and cellular defects associated with uveitis in an experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) rat model. Rats were IVT injected with the gene therapy or a control solution, and a week later EAU was induced. EAU was developed in rats who had received the control treatment but not in those who had received the gene therapy. No intraocular or systemic side effects due to AAV‑Eq IL10 were observed. Discussions are ongoing with the USDA to move AAV‑Eq IL10 into a therapeutic clinical trial for horses with naturally-occurring uveitis.
Name: Kelly Parsons