Foundation Fighting Blindness: Building a toolbox of therapies for dry AMD, inherited retinal diseases

Claire Gelfman, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Foundation Fighting Blindness, supplies a brief overview of the foundation's aims and updates on retinal disease research.

Video transcript

So the Foundation Fighting Blindness is actually the world's largest private funder of retinal disease research. And that's really all in support of our mission, the funding of which leads to preventions, treatments, and cures for individuals who are suffering from both the dry form of age related macular degeneration, as well as inherited retinal diseases.

We've been doing this for about 50 years. And yesterday, I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion that really spotlighted cell and gene therapy approaches for the treatment of inherited retinal disease and dry AMD. And in that discussion, we really focused on how physicians can leverage the foundation to support treatments and cures for their patients, and specifically, how physicians can order genetic testing free of charge through the Foundation, which also includes free genetic counseling to interpret those results. And then importantly, that information goes into our registry, so that individuals are then poised to be called on for a clinical trial or natural history study, when those treatments reach the clinical trial stage.

We also talked about how the venture philanthropic arm of the foundation is also being used to advance treatments forward. And we talk specifically about some of the features that we look for in companies to invest in, so that when they're successful, the return on those investments come back to the foundation, so we can then further our mission.

The kind of research that we fund really falls under all different categories, a toolbox, if you will, of ways to treat inherited retinal diseases. And that really encompasses gene-specific therapies, the viral-based therapies we've been hearing a lot about, but also more agnostic approaches. So for example, stem cell-based therapies, as well as optogenetics that are making its way into the clinic, but are not necessarily dependent upon knowing your causative gene.
So we really take this toolbox approach, whether it be gene-specific or cell-specific, to really increase the chances of finding the best treatment for our constituents.

It's a very exciting time to be in retina. There's lots of wonderful therapeutics that are that we were able to discuss, and the impact of the Foundation Fighting Blindness is really revolutionary, and we look forward to announcing those treatments in the not-too-distant future. If you'd like to learn more about the Foundation Fighting Blindness, feel free to reach out to us at fightingblindness.org Thank you so much.