Oct 3, 2014

Large-scale Phenotypic Drug Screen Identifies Neuroprotectants in Zebrafish and Mouse Models of Retinitis Pigmentosa

Punita SharmaJeff S Mumm


Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and associated inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are caused by rod photoreceptor degeneration, necessitating therapeutics promoting rod photoreceptor survival. To address this, we tested compounds for neuroprotective effects in zebrafish and mouse RP models, reasoning drugs effective across species may translate better clinically. We first performed a large-scale phenotypic drug screen using a larval zebrafish model of inducible RP. 2,934 compounds, mostly human-approved drugs, were tested across six concentrations. Statistically, 113 compounds achieved hit status. Secondary tests of 42 high-priority hits confirmed eleven lead compounds. Nine leads were then evaluated in mouse RP models, with six exhibiting neuroprotective effects. An analysis of potential mechanisms of action suggested complementary activities. Paired lead compound assays in zebrafish showed additive neuroprotective effects for the majority. These results highlight the value of cross-species phenotypic drug discovery and suggest combinatorial drug therapies may provide enhanced therapeutic benefits for patients with RP and IRDs.

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Pathogenic Organism
Anopheles culicifacies

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