After successful restoration of visual function in animal models of retinal degeneration (with Botond Roska (IOB, Basel), Dr. Sahel conceived the first-in-man clinical trial combining a biotherapy (photoactivatable optogene channelrhodopsin expressed in retinal ganglion cells) coupled with a stimulation device, and observed the first clinical evidence for vision restoration using optogenetics.
Clinician-scientist at the forefront of several first-in-man clinical investigations in vision restoration, Dr. Sahel conceived the first clinical trial combining photoactivatable optogene and stimulation device, and observed the first clinical evidence for vision restoration by optogenetics. He lead -with D. Palanker and Pixium Vision- the clinical development of a wireless photovoltaic retinal prosthesis, now in clinical trials for AMD, with unprecedented outcomes. Sahel’s team deciphered pathways of cones maintenance mediated by the endogenous protein RdCVF and developed RdCVF into a broad gene-independent neuroprotective therapy, now entering in clinical trial. After demonstration of vision restoration in relevant models of Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a blinding neurodegenerative disease, Sahel’s group undertook pioneering safety/efficacy clinical studies of AAV2-ND4 gene therapy. Phase III studies are completed in the US and Europe yielding promising results.