Pioneering research gives hope on World Vision Day

This World Vision Day (October 8, 2020), the Australian Center for Ophthalmology Research (CERA), is a pioneering study to prevent blindness and restore vision for eye diseases that have long been considered untreatable. We will start Hope in Sight Giving Day to raise awareness of. The event will focus on the potential of gene therapy and raise funds for new therapies developed and tried in Melbourne.

“Gene therapy and cell therapy are two new technologies that give new hope to patients with previously unavailable treatments,” said Keith Martin, managing director of CERA.

“This includes people with hereditary retinal disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa and Stargard’s disease, or those who have experienced irreversible vision loss due to optic nerve disorders such as glaucoma.”

Approximately 16,500 Australians inherit retinal disease caused by genetic defects that lead to loss of retinal cells that cause vision loss and blindness. These illnesses are the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults and there is currently no cure or cure. However, with the advent of genetic and cell therapies, new therapies are being tried internationally, and the chances of stopping vision loss and restoring vision are now a real possibility.

Sisters Kate and Nicole Barrett are the faces of our vision-giving day campaign. Kate, 35, was first diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 6 and now lives with a small amount of tunnel vision.

Occupational therapist Nicole, 33, was diagnosed at the age of 17. Her eyesight is now stable and she lives every day hoping that her eyesight will not deteriorate further.

“Research on new gene therapy hopes to have a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa in my lifetime,” Kate said.

“It gives everyone the hope that scientists are looking all the way for a cure. My wish is [that] My eyesight can stay there so I can see the milestones of my daughters’ lives. “

The following studies are underway at CERA to address irreversible blindness:

  • Development of gene therapy to address rare forms of retinitis pigmentosa.
  • Gene therapy to repair the optic nerve damage that causes blindness in glaucoma.
  • Stem cell therapy to regenerate light-sensing cells in the eye to restore vision.
  • Tissue-engineered cornea for transplantation.
  • A study to understand how hereditary retinal disease progresses and to identify people who are suitable for clinical trials.

Gene therapy researcher Dr. Tom Edwards said it was exciting to provide patients with the hope that there would be a cure.

“Gene therapy research provides the best prospects for finding cures for hereditary eye diseases that cause blindness,” he said.

All dollars donated to CERA research on World Sight Day will be tripled by a matching donation from Australia’s National Stem Cell Foundation and CERA Foundation.

“I’m particularly excited about the possibility that Dr. Tom Edwards’ gene therapy approach can be applied to many different hereditary eye diseases, not just one,” said Graeme Blackman, AO President of the Australian National Stem Cell Foundation. I did.

“We encourage people to join us and make donations to support the research of Tom and his colleagues.”

Donate at

Image captions: Guide dogs Misty, Nicole and Kate Barrett. Image © Anna Carlile

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