Chinese experts and scholars make breakthroughs in gene editing therapy research innovations, patients with viral keratitis are expected to be bright again

  China News Service, January 12 (Reporter Chen Jing) Viral keratitis is an inflammation caused by the infection of the cornea with a viral pathogen. The disease is prone to relapse and becomes the main cause of infectious blindness.

There is neither a vaccine available nor a cure for the disease, which bothers doctors and patients.

  The reporter learned on the 12th that Hong Jiaxu, an expert from the Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat Hospital of Fudan University, and Professor Cai Yujia from the Institute of Systems Biomedicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University, have jointly achieved breakthrough new results.

They took the lead in inventing a gene therapy delivery vector, which combines gene editing and delivery technology.

The treatment technology, named HELP, not only cuts the virus genome and degrades it, but also eliminates the latent virus in the trigeminal ganglion, thereby eradicating viral keratitis.

  Professor Shi Weiyun, head of the Corneal Disease Group of the Ophthalmology Branch of the Chinese Medical Association, and dean of Shandong Eye Hospital, believes that this technology provides a new solution for the radical treatment of viral keratitis.

  Hong Jiaxu told reporters in an interview that at present, traditional drugs for the treatment of viral keratitis, such as acyclovir, or corneal transplantation, can only temporarily inhibit the herpes virus, but cannot remove the viral genome from the body.

Related viruses will travel through the eye nerves to reach the trigeminal ganglion in a retrograde direction.

There, they build a virus reservoir, once reactivated, the disease will relapse and worsen.

For a long time, experts and scholars have been working hard to explore the problem of directly degrading the virus's genome and "cutting out" the latent virus from the root cause.

  It is understood that the major breakthroughs made by Chinese scholars in the field of gene editing therapy were published in the internationally renowned academic journals "Nature-Biomedical Engineering" and "Nature-Biotechnology" magazines.

HELP technology solves the biggest technical "bottleneck" of gene editing therapy-delivery technology, and is expected to open up the "last mile" of gene editing in vivo therapy.

At the same time, this new technology targets the genome of the virus, does not change human genes, is safe, and can minimize the risk of off-target and avoid immune responses.

Cai Yujia revealed that by using HELP technology, virus replication in the mouse infection model is effectively prevented, and the virus pool hidden in the ganglia is cleared at the same time.

The research team hopes that this new therapy can help patients with refractory viral keratitis regain their light.

  Specially invited commentator, Professor Yuan Jin, deputy director of the Sun Yat-sen Ophthalmology Center of Sun Yat-Sen University, pointed out to reporters that the application of gene editing to the treatment of viral keratitis can eliminate the virus lurking in the trigeminal ganglion in animals, from "0" Innovation breakthrough to "1".

  At present, there are no medicines for many kinds of viral infections related to human health, and even no vaccines are available.

Although vaccines are available for viruses such as HBV and HPV, there are still no drugs to cure them once they are infected.

Yuan Jin said that HELP, as a new antiviral therapy with clinical potential, will help the era of in vivo gene editing therapy come true, and bring patients with incurable and refractory genetic and infectious diseases. new Hope.

  The Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat Hospital of Fudan University is the only third-level A-level eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist hospital under the National Health Commission.

Zhou Xingtao, the dean of the hospital, said that the hospital integrates medical treatment, teaching, and scientific research and strives to overcome difficult and complicated diseases.

It is understood that about 70% of the patients in the hospital come from all over the country outside of Shanghai, and the proportion of patients with incurable diseases is high.

At present, with the demonstration and permission of the Ethics Committee of the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital Affiliated to Fudan University, Hong Jiaxu’s team is presiding over relevant clinical application research, and the application may be expanded to the treatment of other hereditary eye diseases in the future.