Trained at Marseille U., Francfort MPI, and UC Berkeley, Serge PICAUD is the Director of the Paris Vision Institute since January 1rst, 2021. His team has developed ex vivo models from the porcine retina such as purified and cultured cone photoreceptors or retinal explants respecting the tissue architecture. However, his translational research has also required animal experimentation on rodents and non-human primates. After investigating the mechanisms of vision and understanding the retinal toxicity of the antiepileptic drug vigabatrin, his research focus has moved the last ten years on the restoration of vision for blind patients. This objective has included the test of novel materials for electrodes like Graphene and Diamond or modelling the retinal information processing taking advantages of event-based camera.
In a successful translation to the clinic, his team has validated a photovoltaic and wireless retinal prosthesis both ex vivo and in vivo on the primate retina, paving the way for clinical trials in patients affected by age-related macular degeneration. As an alternative to retinal prosthesis, optogenetic therapy was evaluated on rodents and primates, opening the path toward clinical trials on blind patients affected by retinitis pigmentosa with a recovery of some visual performances. The team is now moving toward visual restoration at the level of the visual cortex for patients with optic neuropathies like glaucoma, the second cause of blindness, or diabetic retinopathy, the first cause of blindness before the age of 50. The clinical translations were possible thanks to the creation of different start-up like Pixium Vision for prosthesis and Gensight Biologics for optogenetic therapy.