Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Vitto Resnick Sciences

The Characterization of Three Novel Synthetic Opsins for Optogenetic Vision Restoration in Mouse Models of Retinal Degeneration Using Adeno-associated Viral Vectors

Scholars Journal

Blindness due to inherited and age-related photoreceptor dystrophies represents a significant handicap, a cost to society due to the inability to work, and overall reduced quality of life worldwide. Optogenetics employs adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors to target surviving retinal cell populations for the expression of opsins, granting these cells the ability to perceive light to replace the function of photoreceptors lost to disease. Vitto will be packaging three promising new synthetic opsins into AAV2-4YF viruses for intravitreal injection in mice, targeting ON bipolar cells in the retina for their intrinsic ability to be activated by light onset and potential to restore higher visual acuity and light sensitivity for visual processing in human patients. He will then conduct behavioral tests to assess the degree of vision restored.
Major: Chemical Biology, Psychology, Molecular & Cell Biology, and Nutritional Science & Toxicology
Mentor: John Flannery, Molecular & Cell Biology and Vision Science
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