The UK’s leading eye research charity, Fight for Sight, is partnering with the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) to support Scottish researchers in developing a treatment for autoimmune uveitis, a condition that can cause blindness.
Dr Heather Wilson and Professor John Forrester from the University of Aberdeen and Dr Lucia Kuffova from NHS Grampian have been awarded £200,000 to investigate the use of T regulatory cells as a potential treatment.
Uveitis is the name for inflammation within the eye (intraocular inflammation). This sight-threatening condition is usually managed with therapies including steroids and immunosuppressants which can be accompanied by harmful side effects.
This research will provide evidence for a personalized therapy as an alternative approach to treatment. This treatment could potentially “reset” the patient’s immune system and prevent future recurrence of the condition.
Dr Neil Ebenezer, Director of Research, Policy and Innovation at Fight for Sight, said:
We are delighted to be working in partnership with the CSO to support vital sight saving research in Scotland. This exciting research project could potentially prevent the future recurrence of uveitis, which will have a significant impact on the lives of those living with this condition.”
Dr Alan McNair from the Chief Scientist Office said:
It is through research that effective new treatments for debilitating eye conditions such as autoimmune uveitis will be developed. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with Fight for Sight in supporting this exciting project at the University of Aberdeen.”
Intraocular inflammation within the eye can be sight-threatening, especially when it affects the retina, which is known as posterior uveitis. During a flare of posterior uveitis the patient’s immune system causes damage due to the over- active immune cells attacking the retina. It is thought that in sight threatening uveitis an uncontrolled immune response to the patient’s individual antigens is due to the failure of T regulatory cells which have a role in controlling inflammation. Researchers will therefore identify, harvest, amplify and transfuse isolated T regulatory cells to suppress the inflammatory cells that are causing damage.