Dean McGee Eye Institute, Together with OU Health, Offering New Gene Therapy Treatment for an Inherited Retinal Disease

News Release
Dean McGee Eye Institute, Together with OU Health, Offering New Gene Therapy Treatment for an Inherited Retinal Disease

The Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI) has been named one of the newest sites for administering Spark Therapeutics’ LUXTURNA® (voretigne neparvovec-rzyl), the first FDA-approved gene therapy for the treatment of a mutation in the RPE65 genes. These mutations cause an inherited retinal dystrophy (IRD) often known as Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA).

LCA is a leading cause of inherited blindness in children. Patients with mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene – as determined through genetic testing – start to lose vision by the time they are five years old. Retinal cells continue to die over time and the vision loss worsens as the patient ages, until most become legally blind.

If the treating physician determines a patient has functioning retinal cells remaining, LUXTURNA® offers a chance to reverse the vision loss. Using a non-disease-causing virus, LUXTURNA® delivers a normal copy of the RPE65 gene to the retinal cells. This enables these cells to make the proteins necessary to function properly so they become capable of preserving and improving visual function.

DMEI vitreoretinal surgeons, Razek G. Coussa, MDCM, FRCSC and Vinay A. Shah, MD, will treat patients with RPE65 LCA in conjunction with OU Health Pharmacy and the OU Health-Outpatient Surgery Center. “We are one of only 17 centers in the U.S. certified to provide this specialized treatment,” states Dr. Coussa. “Previously, patients in our area who qualified for LUXTURNA® would have had to travel to other states to receive treatment. We are excited to now be able to offer this treatment right here in Oklahoma City.”

“We are proud of Dr. Coussa for leading the efforts for DMEI to become a designated treatment center, and for Dr. Shah who joined him in undergoing specific education to administer LUXTURNA®,” states R. Michael Siatkowski, MD, MBA, DMEI’s chief executive officer and the Edward L. Gaylord professor and chair of the University of Oklahoma Department of Ophthalmology. “In addition, I want to thank Christian Kanady, founding partner of Echo, for his generous donation that enabled us to purchase the specialized visual function equipment necessary to provide this treatment.”

“The Dean McGee Eye Institute continues to put Oklahoma City on the map as a leader in specialized vision care and cutting-edge treatments. Providing this transformational vision loss reversal therapy will only add to their incredible impact locally and nationally,” said Christian Kanady, Founding Partner and CEO of Echo.

LUXTURNA® certification is one step in the process of DMEI building a novel center-of-excellence focused on providing much-needed medical and surgical treatments to patients with IRDs. Future efforts will include conducting major national and international clinical trials at DMEI/OU. This center will be the first of its kind in Oklahoma and is envisioned to attract researchers, clinicians, and patients from all over the world.

About the Dean McGee Eye Institute
The Dean McGee Eye Institute is dedicated to serving all Oklahomans and the global community through excellence and leadership in patient care, education, and vision research. It is one of the largest and most respected eye institutes in the United States and houses the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology. Its clinical, research, and training programs are ranked in the top 10 in the nation among public universities. Twenty-nine of the Institute’s ophthalmologists are listed in Top Doctors of the 405 and/or Castle Connolly Top Doctors. For more information, visit

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