Retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and dry age-related macular degeneration, have led to loss of vision in millions of individuals. Currently, no surgical or medical treatment is available, although optogenetic therapies are in clinical development. We demonstrate vision restoration using multicharacteristics opsin (MCO1) in animal models with degenerated retina. MCO1 is reliably delivered to specific retinal cells via intravitreal injection of adeno-associated virus (vMCO1), leading to significant improvement in visually guided behavior conducted using a radial arm water maze. The time to reach the platform and the number of error arms decreased significantly after delivery of MCO1. Notably, the improvement in visually guided behavior was observed even at light intensity levels orders of magnitude lower than that required for channelrhodopsin-2 opsin. Viability of vMCO1-treated retina is not compromised by chronic light exposure. Safe virus-mediated MCO1 delivery has potential for effective gene therapy of diverse retinal degenerations in patients.
Visualization and assessment of the cellular structure and function require localized delivery of the molecules into specific cells in restricted spatial regions of the tissue and may necessitate subcellular delivery and localization. Earlier, we have shown ultrafast near-infrared laser beam-assisted optoporation of actin-staining molecules into cortical neurons with single-cell resolution and high efficiency. However, diffusion of optoporated molecules in soma degrades toward the growth cone, leading to difficulties in visualization of the actin network in the growth cone in cases of long axons. Here, we demonstrate optoporation of impermeable molecules to functional cortical neurons by precise laser subaxotomy near the growth cone, leading to visualization of the actin network in the growth cone. Further, we demonstrate patterned delivery of impermeable molecules into targeted retinal cells in the rat eye. The development of optoporation as a minimally invasive approach to reliably deliver exogenous molecules into targeted axons and soma of retinal neurons in vivo will enable enhanced visualization of the structure and function of the retina.