Researcher Q&A: Alice Davidson
Our researchers share what excites them most in eye research
Alice Davidson is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Ophthalomolgy, University College London.
In what areas do you think eye research will make the most progress in the coming months?
A new class of drug called therapeutic oligonucleotides has recently been trialed for the treatment of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), a genetic form of childhood blindness. The authors of the study showed that this molecular-based therapy could target the cellular consequences of a ‘genetic spelling mistake.’ Consequently, vision was found to improve for the small number of patients tested.
I feel this approach shows real promise for the future treatment of LCA – an otherwise incurable form of blindness, as well as other forms of inherited blindness and or vision. Over the coming month I anticipate seeing exciting progress in this area of research.
What developments do you think will be important to the eye health sector as a whole?
Our understanding of genetics and how an individual’s genome predisposes them to disease has advanced immeasurably over the past decade. However, we are only starting to realise the clinical and translational potential of this knowledge. In the next decade I anticipate – and hope – we will see many exciting advances in the field of personalised genomic medicine that will have a positive impact upon people’s vision.
In your view, what has been the biggest recent breakthrough in 2018?
Prof Pete Coffey, Prof Lyndon da Cruz and their colleagues at UCL institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye hospital published the successful trial of a new age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treatment earlier this year. They described the novel and successful implantation of a specially engineered patch of retinal pigment epithelium cells derived from stem cells, to treat people with sudden severe sight loss from wet AMD. This ground-breaking work was published in Nature Biotechnology and holds much promise for the future treatment of AMD.