Research themes

  • Regenerative medicine and pharmaceutics

    Scarring, arising as a natural reaction to surgery performed to improve an underlying ophthalmic problem such as glaucoma, can cause significant impairment of vision. Our site has one of the strongest track records in the world in the fields of preventing ocular scarring, promoting cell regeneration and developing novel medicines. The overarching aim of this research theme is to accelerate the availability and range of innovative cellular and molecular therapies which meet many unmet needs in ophthalmology and in the human body.

    Objectives

    • to develop novel stem cell therapies to prevent blindness and/or restore vision caused by AMD, ocular surface disease, glaucoma and diabetes.
    • to develop novel therapies to prevent scarring and promote healthy cell regeneration for diseases and traumas that affect the front and back of the eye.
    • to develop novel delivery mechanisms (eg. tablet, injection or other methods) to prevent the formation of malign cells and inflammation that causes irreversible damage.
  • Gene therapy

    The aim is to develop gene therapy as a treatment for a range of eye diseases, including rare (currently untreatable) forms of inherited diseases as well as common eye disorders (AMD and diabetic retinopathy) that cause haemorrhaging and fluid leakage and irreversible damage to the overlying retina. Gene therapy offers the prospect of local treatment with reduced risk of systemic side effects.

    Objectives

    • to develop a gene therapy product to the point where it can be used to routinely treat a rare inherited eye disease that starts in childhood (eg. Leber’s congenital amaurosis type 2).
    • to initiate gene therapy trials for a wide range of inherited retinal degenerations that start in childhood.
    • to initiate a clinical trial for haemorrhaging (or neovascularisation) associated with AMD.
    • to initiate gene therapy clinical trials for the treatment of uveitis and the prevention of corneal transplant rejection.
  • Visual assessment and imaging

    This theme provides enabling technologies to all other themes to help with early diagnosis of disease, assessing rate of disease progression, targeting treatments to patients, assessing the effectiveness of treatments and measuring the impact of low vision on everyday tasks.

    Objectives

    • to develop better imaging techniques and tailor them to specific problems.
    • to develop new visual function tests that provide more accurate and precise measurements
    • to measure the impact of visual loss on daily activities and apply this knowledge in new ways to help patients make best use of the vision they have.
  • Genotyping, phenotyping & informatics

    The main aim of this theme is to further develop a research infrastructure to maximize involvement of our patients in clinical trials of new therapies. The focus will be on genetic variants that predispose people to common eye disorders such as glaucoma and myopia so that we can identify gene targets for new therapies.

    Objectives

    • To develop novel stem cell therapies to prevent blindness and/or restore vision caused by AMD, ocular surface disease, glaucoma and diabetes
    • To develop novel therapies to prevent scarring and promote healthy cell regeneration for diseases and traumas that affect the front and back of the eye.
    • To develop novel delivery mechanisms (eg. tablet, injection or other methods) to prevent the formation of malign cells and inflammation that causes irreversible damage.
  • New technologies and devices

    The aim of this theme is to transform diagnosis and therapy for eye disease by building next-generation devices through the exploitation of recent and ongoing advances in optics, laser and other technologies.

    Objectives

    • to explore the potential of using laser systems to treat or prevent AMD, diabetic macular oedema and Sorsby’s fundus dystrophy.
    • to develop new technologies to probe retinal changes in early AMD.
    • to lead in the evaluation and design iteration of retinal microchip implants (the “bionic eye” technology)
    • to assess the efficacy of diverse technologies in minimising the damaging effects of surgery at the front of the eye (corneal damage and glaucoma).
    • to develop new technologies to help prevent complications following cataract surgery, particularly in children.
    • to facilitate the development of novel and improved surgical instruments.
  • Inflammation and Immunotherapy

    Inflammation is increasingly understood to underpin tissue damage in the eye. Uveitis, ocular surfaces diseases and corneal graft rejection are obvious areas where inflammation causes problems but it is also central to the progression of AMD and diabetic retinopathy.
     

    Objectives

    • to lead the first gene therapy trial for the treatment of sight-threatening uveitis, alongside a portfolio of early-phase trials of novel therapies associated with inflammation in AMD, uveitis and ocular surface diseases
    • to develop novel imaging techniques to aid the diagnosis and treatment of early immune reactions in AMD, diabetic retinopathy, uveitis and ocular surface diseases.
    • to conduct proof-of-concept studies to predict disease prognosis in AMD, ocular surface diseases and uveitis and to tailor therapies to suit particular expressions of disease.