Reprogramming rod photoreceptors to treat retinal degeneration

2018 Pilot Project Read More


Principal Investigator: Joseph Corbo (WashU Pathology & Immunology)
Collaborator: Vladimir Kefalov (WashU Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences)


Degeneration of the light-sensing photoreceptor cells in the human retina is a common cause of blindness worldwide. There are two types of photoreceptor in the eye: rods which are active in dim light and cones which are active in bright light. Photoreceptor degeneration is often caused by mutations in genes that are specifically turned on in rods. In this proposal, we seek to develop a novel therapy to prevent rod photoreceptor degeneration caused by mutations in rod genes. Our strategy relies on genetic ‘reprogramming’ of rod photoreceptors into cells with features of both rods and cones. Prior studies suggest that by reprogramming the rods in this way, it may be possible to forestall the progression of photoreceptor degeneration. If our studies are successful, they will pave the way for future reprogramming-based therapies in human patients with blindness.


Updated April 2021


Pilot project teams include Hope Center faculty members and others. For more about Hope Center faculty on this team, click below.

Joseph Corbo