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Apr 5, 2021

FBC announces new award to fund BBS10 research

Dr. Arlene Drack

Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC) is pleased to announce a new award to support research by Dr. Arlene Drack (University of Iowa) to develop a new gene therapy treatment for retinal degeneration caused by mutations in the Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) gene BBS10. Thanks to a generous donation of $825,000 from Tara Klassen and Carl Hansen, this award will allow continued investment for this project, which FBC has been supporting since 2018 thanks to support from BBS families and other supporters.

BBS is a rare, genetic disorder that impacts different parts of the body, including a person’s vision. Vision loss usually begins in childhood and it is common for individuals to be legally blind by early adulthood. BBS is caused by mutations in over 20 genes with the BBS10 gene being one of the most frequently mutated. There are currently no treatments or cures for vision loss caused by BBS but Dr. Drack is trying to change this.

With this award, Dr. Drack will be testing a new gene therapy for BBS10 with the aim to bring this potential treatment to clinical trials in the near future. During this study, Dr. Drack and her team will be testing if the BBS10 gene therapy is safe and if it is effective at reducing vision loss in an animal model. Dr. Drack will measure if retinal degeneration is slowed or stopped after treatment with BBS10 gene therapy using imaging techniques, including electroretinogram (ERG) and optical coherence tomography (OCT), and functional assays which measure animal behaviour.

Dr. Drack hopes that the results of these experiments will provide strong data that allows her team to apply to the federal drug agency (FDA) for approval to launch an early phase clinical trial in humans soon after completion of this project.

Learn more about BBS on our resource page.

If you have questions about BBS, connect with FBC’s Health Information Line at 1.888.626.2995 or by email healthinfo@fightingblindness.ca.


Fighting Blindness Canada is the largest charitable funder of vision research in Canada. We offer hope to Canadians by funding the best, most promising research that is driving treatments and cures for blinding eye diseases. To support the instrumental work we do, please consider making a donation today.

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