Research & Initiatives

Many degenerative retinal disorders are characterised by the loss of retinal cells, resulting in vision loss and blindness. These diseases affect millions of patients worldwide and cause a significant socio-economic burden on our healthcare system. Currently, there is no effective way to cure blindness once the retinal cells are lost.

Our research aims to develop regenerative therapy for the retina, which has the very real prospect of replacing the retinal cell losses and help restore vision in these patients.

Key research questions

  • How do we generate human retinal cells in the lab using stem cell technologies?

  • Can we regenerate the retina to treat blindness caused by retinal degenerative diseases?

  • Can we use new gene editing technology to develop gene therapy for inherited retinal diseases?

  • What are the signals that support retinal cells for healthy vision?

human retina

gene atlas

Our vision depends on a healthy retina, a thin layer of cells at the back of eye that sense light and send messages to the brain via the optic nerve and enable us to see.

 

In 2019, we developed the world’s most detailed Human Retina Gene Atlas. To create this map, we examined the complex genetic sequences behind more than 20,000 individual retinal cells. This allowed us to develop a genetic profile of the major cell types in the retina, and the genes they express to function normally.

Cells mapped include photoreceptors, which sense light and allow people to see, as well as retinal ganglion cells, which transmit messages to the brain along the optic nerve, and other cells that support the function and stability of the retina.