Fight for sight funding
4 March 2008
The UCL Institute of Ophthalmology has received funding from Fight for Sight to support genetic research into autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (arRP), one of the leading causes of blindness.
Professor Shomi Bhattacharya (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology) has been awarded a three-year studentship grant of £92,994 to further research into the genetics of arRP. The research aims to isolate and characterise a novel gene on chromosome six thought to be involved in the condition, and to continue identifying new genes for arRP.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is the name given to a group of hereditary eye disorders. These disorders affect the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye, in which the first stages of seeing take place. Sight loss is gradual but progressive. In arRP there will usually be no known history of RP in the family but if two carriers have a child there is a 25 per cent chance that the child will have RP.
Fight for Sight is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to funding world-class research into the prevention and treatment of blindness and eye disease. The charity has been funding research into a wide-range of eye diseases including age-related macular degeneration, RP, glaucoma, cataract, diabetic eye disease, as well as children’s eye diseases for more than forty years
Professor Bhattacharya said: “We are extremely grateful to Fight for Sight for enabling us to further our work into understanding autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa. Only once we have a much better knowledge of the molecular basis of the disease will we be able to design effective prevention and treatment strategies for the condition.”
The UCL Institute of Ophthalmology is one of a number of specialised research centres linked to UCL and is, together with Moorfields Eye Hospital, one of the leading centres for eye research. Current research at the institute includes The London Project to cure age-related macular degeneration, led by Professor Pete Coffey, which is working on a cell replacement therapy from human embryonic stem cells, the first clinical trial to cure inherited retinal degeneration using gene therapy, led by Professor Robin Ali, and Professor Francesca Cordeiro’s ground-breaking discovery that a combination of treatments developed for Alzheimer’s disease also has the potential to treat glaucoma, the major cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.
Fight for Sight has also awarded funding to Queen’s University, Belfast, to develop treatment for age-related macular degeeration. Michele Acton, Fight for Sight Chief Executive commented: “ We are delighted to be able to support such vital research into retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. These grants will also enable promising young scientists to gain valuable experience at leading research centres.”
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Image: Professor Battacharya