• Avalanche Biotechnologies; University of Washington
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Retina/Vitreous

    Avalanche Biotechnologies and the University of Washington in Seattle have signed an exclusive licensing agreement to develop gene therapies for color vision deficiency.

    Avalanche will build on gene therapy research conducted by Drs. Jay and Maureen Neitz of UW’s department of ophthalmology. The Neitz research team used gene therapy to confer color vision in two adult male squirrel monkeys that had been colorblind since birth. This groundbreaking work demonstrating proof-of-concept for treating color blindness was published in the journal Nature. The company says this pioneering research could potentially treat cone diseases other than color blindness.

    Drs. Jay and Maureen Neitz have joined Avalanche’s scientific advisory board and will serve as technical advisors to the company on the science of vision.

    Avalanche has two drug candidates designed to treat the most common forms of color vision deficiency: AVA-322 carries the gene for L-opsin and targets protan defects and AVA-323 carries the gene for M-opsin and targets deutan defects.

    The company also launched a website, colorvisionawareness.com, to provide information about colorblindness, opportunities for affected individuals to serve as study subjects and new therapies.