Studying birdshot using stem cells from patients

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight / Birdshot Uveitis Society Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Dr Anai Gonzalez Cordero
  • Institute: UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
  • Region: London
  • Start date: January 2017
  • End Date: December 2017
  • Priority: Quality of Life
  • Eye Category: Ocular inflammatory

Overview

Birdshot chorioretinopathy, also known as birdshot uveitis, is a condition that involves inflammation at the back of the eye. It’s a hard condition to treat and we don’t know enough about why it develops.

It would help our understanding of birdshot to study cells and tissue from patients, but donor tissue is in short supply. However, it is possible to develop a layer of tissue called the retinal pigment epithelium from certain stem cells that come from patients.

The retinal pigment epithelium supports the light-sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye. It’s affected in birdshot but the effects can often only be picked up with imaging when it’s already quite bad.

The team hopes that developing the support layer in the lab, from blood stem cells from patients, will mean they can investigate any more subtle changes to the way this tissue behaves in birdshot. Results from the project should mean that birdshot researchers will have a good test bed for understanding the condition and testing potential treatments, such as new drugs or gene therapy.

Find out more about Birdshot Uveitis Society