Oct 07 2008 Posted: 00:00 IST
A new collaboration between the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway and Dr David Kent, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Aut Even Private Hospital, Kilkenny, aims to investigate the therapeutic potential of adult stem cells in combating the loss of vision in diseases such as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). "AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in the over 50s. It is estimated the condition affects over 60,000 adults here in Ireland. The WHO has stated that the instances of AMD will triple in the next 25 years as our population ages, however there is currently no cure for the condition and awareness remains low", said Avril Daly, Head of Public Affairs at Fighting Blindness. She added: "Irish researchers are making great inroads in discovering the causes and potential treatments for AMD and we at Fighting Blindness strongly support Dr Kent and REMEDI in this important project and wish them every success". Amy Lynch, a Ph.D. student in REMEDI, NUI Galway, will investigate the therapeutic potential of stem cells to regenerate retinal cells in the macula area of the eye. Amy's project will be based around the determination of efficacy in an in vivo model of macular degeneration, where she will avail of the in-house expertise in stem cells and delivery in REMEDI and will be supported with strong clinical and scientific guidance from both Dr Kent and Professor Frank Barry, Scientific Director, REMEDI. Des Kenny, CEO of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) said: "We are very excited about the contribution this project will make to supporting people with sight loss in this country. We were delighted many years ago to have been able to support David Kent's choice of specialisation into this very important aspect of significant sight loss". According to Professor Barry, "REMEDI is very focused on developing novel strategies for treating human disease using the stem cell and gene therapy technologies we have developed at NUI Galway. This project is very important to us because of the high incidence of this condition in Ireland and worldwide. We are delighted to initiate the project in collaboration with Dr Kent and will benefit greatly from his clinical and research expertise in AMD. We also welcome the input from Fighting Blindness and the NCBI, both of whom have done a great deal to promote the research effort in Ireland in diseases of the eye". Further details of AMD can be found at www.amd.ie. REMEDI is an SFI funded research institute at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science located at NUI Galway www.remedi.ie.