The Crumbs homologue 1 (CRB1) gene: its role in inherited blindness, its function
The Crumbs consortium: towards understanding the basis of retinal degeneration and development of novel therapies.
In 1999, the CRB1 gene was found to be mutated in a specific group of patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) (den Hollander et al. 1999). This gene was given its name because of its close resemblance with a previously identified gene (Crumbs) in the fruitfly (Tepass et al. 1990). The function of the CRB1 protein in the human retina at that time was unknown. In 2001, six European research groups joined their efforts and established a new consortium that received funding from the European Union in 2002. This programme was entitled 'Crumbs therapeutics' (QLG3-CT-2002-01266) and aimed at the elucidation of the cellular function of the CRB1 protein to better understand the underlying disease process, to develop new molecular diagnostic tools for CRB1-associated subtypes of inherited blindness, to develop animal models for these human conditions, and to use these models to design new therapeutic strategies. Then in 2008, in the FP7 program, a new combination of 6 groups established a new consortium entitled "Crumbs In Sight" (HEALTH-F2-2008-200234) with the goal to provide a therapeutic approach to CRB1 related diseases of the retina. This new program will focus on the recovery of interactions between Müller glial cells and photoreceptors.