RetroSense Gets Patent On Method for Restoring Vision

ANN ARBOR — The Ann Arbor-based biopharmaceutical startup RetroSense Therapeutics LLC announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted U.S. patent Application No. 11,036,629, entitled “Method for Augmenting Vision in Persons Suffering from Photoreceptor Cell Degeneration.”

RetroSense is the exclusive licensee of this intellectual property for augmenting vision from photoreceptor cell degeneration through a license with Massachusetts General Hospital. This patent broadly covers methods for restoring or improving vision using optogenetic approaches. The allowed claims cover the use of a broad range of light-sensitive proteins called opsins and rhodopsins in vision restoration.

RetroSense is developing its lead product, RST-001, as a first-in-class gene therapy application of optogenetics designed to restore vision in patients suffering from blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and advanced dry age-related macular degeneration.

In March, RetroSense announced that the first patient was successfully dosed in the first clinical trial to evaluate the safety of RST-001. There are currently no FDA approved drugs to improve or restore vision in patients with these retinal degenerative conditions.

“This is an important milestone in the quest to develop a therapy to restore or improve vision for patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa or advanced dry age-related macular degeneration,” said Richard H. Masland, the first named inventor and David G. Cogan Professor of Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

“The notice of allowance for this key patent complements our existing … patent portfolio which focuses on optogenetic gene therapies and complementary devices for vision restoration,” added Sean Ainsworth, CEO of RetroSense Therapeutics. “Expanding our patent portfolio is an important part of our strategy and the Masland patent improves our ability to develop and commercialize optogenetics.”

Optogenetics refers broadly to means of conferring light sensitivity to cells that were not previously, or natively, light sensitive. By applying optogenetics to retinas in which rod and cone photoreceptors have degenerated, RetroSense is conferring new light sensitivity to the retina, with the expectation of improved or restored vision.

The company’s approach to using optogenetics in vision restoration is based on pioneering, proprietary research conducted by Zhuo-Hua Pan and others at Wayne State University’s Kresge Eye Institute and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and Masland’s team at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. RetroSense has worldwide exclusive rights to the relevant intellectual property from both institutions.

For more information about RetroSense, visit

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