This exciting research project aims to impact retinal degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in children and adults in Australia. At present, there are no approved treatments which can reverse this sight loss.
The case for funding
Retinal degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in children and adults in Australia. At present, there are no approved treatments which can reverse this sight loss.
However, one possible approach vision restoration in retinal disease is through cellular therapy to replace lost retinal cells. However, identifying a reliable source of stem or progenitor cells for cell therapy is an unmet challenge.
Associate Professor Andrew Simunovic is a Consultant Vitreoretinal Surgeon at Sydney Eye Hospital and the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, and is Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Sydney, where he leads the Retinal Disease and Rescue Group.
His team has identified surgical retinal explants as a potential source of retinal progenitor cells, which are capable of transforming into multiple cell types.
These explants are the by-product of emergency surgery for retinal detachment repair and are usually discarded at the end of surgery. Their preliminary findings have been published in the journal, Retina (2021;41(9):1986-93).
“The Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation’s generous support will allow my group’s discovery to be exploited for therapeutic purposes in laboratory models of retinal degeneration. It will also allow us to better characterise surgical specimen-derived retinal progenitor cells.” – Associate Professor Matthew Simunovic