Technological Innovation Liliane Bettencourt

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Manage series 1610667
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José-Alain Sahel studied medicine at the Medical School of Paris University and ophthalmology at the University of Strasbourg and at Harvard University (Boston-Cambridge, USA). He was appointed Professor of Ophthalmology at the University Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg. Currently, José-Alain Sahel is Professor of Ophthalmology at Pierre and Marie Curie University Medical School, Paris, France and Cumberlege Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the Institute of Ophthalmology-University College London, UK. He chairs the Departments of Ophthalmology at the Quinze-Vingts National Eye Hospital and at the Rothschild Ophthalmology Foundation (Paris, France). The primary focus of Sahel's fundamental and clinical research is the understanding of the mechanisms associated with retinal degeneration, together with the conception, development and evaluation of innovative treatments for retinal diseases, with a special focus on genetic rod-cone dystrophies (e.g. neuroprotection, stem cells, gene therapy, pharmacology, and artificial retina). The group of José-Alain Sahel (with Saddek Mohand-Said and Thierry Léveillard) was the first to hypothesize and demonstrate that rod photoreceptors produce a protein that rescues cone photoreceptors, thereby maintaining light-adapted and high-resolution vision. This molecule, Rod-derived Cone Viability Factor (RdCVF), is now in translation into a possible therapeutic agent to save cones and treat a spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases. Once rods and cones have degenerated, optogenetics -a promising novel therapeutic strategy- provides alternative to restore vision. Sahel's group (with Serge Picaud and Botond Roska at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research) demonstrated that different retinal cell types such as 'dormant cones' can be converted into 'artificial photoreceptors' by targeting the expression of genetically encoded light sensors enabling mice with retinal degeneration to perform visually guided behaviors. Besides research on developmental biology, functional genomics, physiology and therapeutics, Sahel's laboratory (with Michel Paques, Saddek Mohand-Said and Isabelle Audo) conducts research on genotype-phenotype correlations with high resolution in vivo non-invasive high-resolution retinal imaging techniques (optical coherence tomography and adaptive optics) aiming at identifying patients eligible for clinical application of innovative therapies. Together with Mathis Fink (Institut Langevin) he is the principal investigator of a very large ERC-synergy grant aiming at developing novel technologies for morpho-functional imaging of the visual system.

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