Eye Hope Foundation

Autumn Update

Dear all,

 

The last time we gave an update on our foundation was after the Wolfram workshop in Paris.

Since then several fundraising events have happened enabling us to raise a substantial amount.  We are immensely grateful to all people contributing and supporting our foundation in that way.

Thanks to that funding, our foundation has funded three projects during the last months.

 

The group of Pof. C. Verfaillie has been granted an initial budget to start their gene therapy work using adapted CRISPR/CAS9 technology. Currently, although the project is started, there is an ongoing activity to recruit the best researchers. If this project shows promising results, it could be a cure for blindness related to rare genetic diseases.

 

At the ULB, initial experiments have been done with drug repurposing. Using the GLP1 agonist on the mice models of WFS1 disease, promising results were shown for diabetes phenotype. It remains to be analysed how the effect on nervous systems and hence vision will be. The excellent quality is reflected in an oral presentation that was held on the European diabetes conference (https://www.easd.org/virtualmeeting/home.html#!resources/glp-1-analogues-protect-beta-cells-in-models-of-wolfram-syndrome-12312e34-0d39-499d-a4b2-d56622c38989).

 

Our support in the US at the lab of Prof. F. Urano has also progressed. We are hopeful that MANF carries the potential to regenerate in the future some of the vision losses. Fumi Urano posts regular updates on his blog (https://wolframsyndrome.dom.wustl.edu/dr-uranos-blog/).

 

We are also pleased that the lab of L. Moons has been able to finance the second phase of their project. She will continue to investigate the effects of the treatment on the eyes and brains of the animal models.

 

Other interesting news is the article that was recently published about use of GLP1 agonist in WFS1 rats showing a positive effect. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-28314-z Dr. M. Plaas also developed the WFS1 mouse we are investigating. A collaboration is planned between Dr. Plaas and the ULB / KUL groups.

 

Eye Hope Foundation is also please to learn that another group of KULeuven, the group of Prof. G. Bultynck has obtained a grant to do research on Ca2+ signalling in WFS1-syndrome (https://gbiomed.kuleuven.be/english/research/50000618/50753344/introduction-1).

Finally, Prof. T. Barrett is close to start his clinical trial using Sodium Valproate during the next month. More information about the clinical trials can be found on http://www.wolframsyndrome.co.uk/clinical_trial.php.

 

On the private side, Victor has started in the beginning of October on a new medicine using GLP1 agonist to reduce the progression of the syndrome. He is the second patient worldwide with WFS1 that is going for this treatment. His vision deteriorates very fast. Since we discovered he was a WFS1 patient in autumn 2015, his vision dropped from 35 to less than 5%. So basically, he cannot read anymore posing an endless list of practical problems to tackle. That brings us to braille-learning and becoming member of the association for blind people.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop him yet, he is still going to cinemas, swimming and playing football. He is walking with Nordic walking sticks and his energy and positivity motivates us to keep on fighting for a cure every day. He learned the braille alphabet in less than a month and will proceed now to his first books!

 

We do hope from the deepest of our heart that the treatment we are currently doing, will give us time to continue our work.

We will never stop and do everything possible to give children with Wolfram a joyful future!

Our work is only possible to your contributions and activities. Thank you for giving us all hope.

 

Best regards,

Lode

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Update on the research on Wolfram Syndrome

With Wolfram symposium of Paris just behind us and 2018 almost halfway through, I thought is was time to give you an update on the supported projects and their evolution.

Every 2 years we have this great Wolfram-conference in Paris. Wolfram researchers from all over the world come here to present the results they achieved and the goals they have set for the years to come. In 2016 it was my first time to attend at this symposium. Now, 2 years later, I am very happy to see that the Eye Hope Foundation has made a difference in the research on Wolfram Syndrome and has been able to accelerate the research and to give the financial support to the scientists who are trying to find a cure . 

The scientists we have funded (Dr. M. Esteve, Dr. J. Van Houcke, Prof. C. Verfaillie, Prof. F. Urano, Prof. T. Barrett and Dr. C. Delettre) all presented their results at the workshop that was located in the proximity of the famous Eiffeltower

The research has clearly advanced. The progress is visible on the three aspects:

  1. First of all they try to delay the progression of Wolfram Syndrome by using existing approved drugs.Three different medicines showed promising results on human patients with Wolfram Syndrome although none is conclusive at this point of time. More research is needed to conclude which currently tested medicine is the most effective for human patients. 

  2. Second strategy is stopping the progression of Wolfram Syndrome through gene-therapies or new mini-molecules. This strategy has a longer timeframe. Initial results on cell level and animal models were shown but are still preliminary and more research is needed. 

  3. Third and last point to handle is to find a cure for the damage through regenerative medicine. On this third step Prof. C. Verfaillie showed us a very promising presentation on CRISPR-CAS9. This is a technology to correct gene defects, dealing with the actual core of the problem. 

As you can see, despite the promising results and the clear progress in past 2 years, a lot of work still has to be done. Therefore funding is mandatory.

Our foundation has shown its ability to achieve success during the past years. But there is more, I am happy to announce that the Eye Hope Foundation will be funding three new projects during Summer 2018.

The first project is a follow-up project at the ULB where a side-by-side comparison of different medicines and combinations thereof will be done on cell-and WFS1 mice-models.

The second project will support the research at Washington University on MANF as a regenerative medicine for e.g. visual impairment.

Last but not least, the Eye Hope Foundation has decided to fund the lab of Prof. C. Verfaillie at the KULeuven to provide a gene correction of the WFS1 mutation using CRISPR-CAS9 technology.

All these projects will be described in more detail at a later stage.

I am also thankful to have met these excellent researchers from around the world as well as the other patient-organizations, giving us hope and motivation to carry on our efforts.

I am optimistic we will find a treatment against Wolfram Syndrome.

The only question is when will it happen? And will our kids still be able to take advantage of it?

Thanks for reading and for your contributions,

On behalf of Eye Hope Foundation,

Lode Carnel.

 

 

 

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Soroptimisten Roeselare support the Eye hope foundation

Last Tuesday we were warmly welcomed by the Soroptimists of Roeselare.

With their activities throughout the year, they were able to realize a donation to our foundation of 4000 €!

A number of new and existing research projects will be supported with this donation.

Thank you to all soroptimists of Roeselare!

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