Fight for Sight announces strategy to continue the eye research pipeline throughout Covid-19 crisis and beyond

06 April 20

written by:

Róisín Treacy

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A man dressed in a lab coat, holding a pipette and petri dish.

Fight for Sight has announced its latest project funding and its plans for continuing its efforts to advance eye research in the current global health crisis and beyond. 

The charity is doing everything in its power to maintain business as usual during the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to award research funding as planned over the next few months to ensure that its work to stop sight loss continues in the coming years.

In the last year, Fight for Sight has increased the number of project grants it funds to five, in order to progress research in areas such as age-related macular degeneration, myopia and inherited eye conditions towards finding new treatments in the next decade for the leading causes of blindness.

The charity has also outlined its plans to fund up to nine PhDs in the year ahead, in an effort to establish a future pipeline of research leading to breakthroughs into treatments for sight loss and eye conditions. Some of these PhDs will be funded in partnership with other charities and organisations, to maximise collaboration in the sector.

With sight loss on the increase and so many new technologies emerging, Fight for Sight believes it's never been more important to invest in eye research. Figures show that the number of people in Europe with the leading cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration, is projected to hit 10 million by 2050. However science is already starting to show promising results at clinical trials, including gene therapies, stem cell treatments and artificial intelligence (AI).

Chief Executive at Fight for Sight, Sherine Krause said: “This is a challenging time and there’s a real risk that funding in this vital area will be reduced, so we feel it’s essential that we can carry on funding the best research in the sight loss sector. Although it’s inevitable that some research will be delayed as the doctors and NHS staff we fund are re-deployed to the frontline and labs and equipment are redirected into efforts to beat Covid-19, we remain as committed as ever to the fight against sight loss. We will be working closely with our researchers over the coming months to make sure they can continue their work. We thank all our researchers, funding partners and supporters for helping to find solutions for sight loss and blindness.”

After an extensive peer review process, Fight for Sight will fund the following project grants: 

-        Rescue of inherited retinal degeneration by CRISPR base editing. Dr Jacqueline van der Spuy, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

-        Characterisation of an animal model for cornea stromal dysfunction. Dr Veronique Vitart, University of Edinburgh.

-        Randomised controlled trial of Scanning Eye training As a Rehabilitation Choice for hemianopia after stroke (SEARCH). Professor Fiona Rowe, University of Liverpool. In partnership with the Stroke Association.

-        Translating myopia genetics discoveries into strategies for early detection and mechanistic insight. Professor Jeremy Guggenheim, Cardiff University. In partnership with Health and Care Research Wales.

-        One further grant to be announced in the coming months.

More detail regarding the projects will be announced on our website over the coming months.

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