Associate Affiliate Member, Research Institute
Dr. Richard Hurwitz received his M.D. degree from Albany Medical College. After graduating from medical school, Dr. Hurwitz completed his residency and fellowship at the University of Minnesota. He studies the potential use of gene therapy for the treatment of ocular diseases.
He has developed a treatment for retinoblastoma using suicide gene therapy that is currently in clinical trials. To further refine this therapeutic option, Dr. Hurwitz is studying the cellular origin of retinoblastoma and the differences between invasive and non-invasive forms of the disease.
In addition, he is also using in vivo models of retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration to develop gene therapy treatments for retinal degenerative diseases. The mechanism of adenoviral-mediated transgene expression in the ocular environment is being explored with the goals of identifying molecular targets to modulate adenoviral-mediated gene therapy for both retinoblastoma and retinal degenerative diseases.
The Hurwitz laboratory studies the use of gene therapy in the treatment of ocular disease. Retinoblastoma is the most common malignant intraocular tumor of children and is caused by mutations in the retinoblastoma gene.
Using a model of this disease, they have shown that suicide gene therapy using an adenoviral vector to deliver the herpes thymidine kinase gene followed by treatment with ganciclovir can ablate tumors. Based on these studies, an FDA- and RAC-approved clinical trial was opened to investigate the use of this therapy for children with retinoblastoma.