UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


Prof Pete Coffey named as a UK lifesaver

23 May 2019

World-leading eye researcher, Professor Pete Coffey, who pioneered a treatment enabling people whose vision has been destroyed by disease to see again, has been named as one of the Nation’s Lifesavers.

Professor Pete Coffey

Last year two people, whose sight had deteriorated due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), were able to see the world again, following groundbreaking stem cell based therapy.

The disease is the most common form of blindness in the UK, affecting 600,000 to 700,000 people.  The two patients, a woman in her early 60s and a man in his early 80s, had the severe form of the condition (wet AMD) and declining vision. 

Pioneered by Pete Coffey, Professor of Visual Psychophysics (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology), the treatment effectively treats the disease, allowing people to read and see faces.

On Thursday 16 May 2019, Professor Coffey was named as one of the Nation’s Lifesavers, which recognises the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities across the UK whose work is saving lives and making a life-changing difference to our health and wellbeing.

They were named as part of Universities UK's MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on families, communities and wider society.

The Nation’s Lifesavers are battling diseases, tackling inequality, helping new parents and children enjoy the best start in life and supporting older people.

UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur Professor Arthur said: “Professor Pete Coffey’s recognition as one of the Nations’ Lifesavers is wholly deserved.

“He and his team have developed cutting edge therapies, enabling people to regain our most precious sense – sight.

“His work progressing regenerative medicine, opens the door to new treatment options for people with age-related macular degeneration, providing hope to millions with this common disease.”

Professor Coffey has co-led the London Project to Cure Blindness since 2007 in collaboration with Professor Lyndon da Cruz, a retinal surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital.

The team’s ground-breaking procedure involves implanting a “patch” of stem cells over the back of the eye.

To develop the therapy, Professor Coffey and his team created the cells, perfected a new surgical technique and new surgical tools to implant them, and pioneered imaging techniques to monitor their progress once in the eye.

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