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Research Centre

Molecular Ophthalmology

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Molecular Ophthalmology

The Department of Molecular Ophthalmology is an independent, internationally competitive laboratory, established to investigate the cause and development of eye diseases. We use cutting edge technologies in cell and molecular biology to develop treatments for blinding diseases.

The Department’s team of scientists including cell biologists, virologists, chemists, gene therapy experts, developmental biologists and molecular biologists work closely with ophthalmologists to achieve our objectives.

Molecular Ophthalmology has several major international collaborations and partnerships with a wide range of Australian and overseas institutions, and we are successfully collaborating with the pharmaceutical industry in joint research projects.

Research Projects

Gene based treatment strategies for Diabetic Retinopathy. 2001 – 2005
Disease: Diabetic Retinopathy, AMD,
Platform: Gene Therapy, Animal Models, in vivo and histological diagnosis, Microarray

Diabetic Retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 20 – 74 in the developed world and is becoming a serious problem in developing countries. In Australia Diabetic Retinopathy is present in nearly one third of people with diabetes mellitus. Compared to the general population people with diabetes have a 25-fold risk of blindness. Diabetic Retinopathy is particularly common in those with Type I diabetes. Australian data show that 80% of Type I diabetics have some retinopathy by 10 years duration and almost all have retinopathy by 15 years. Additionally, one in six people diagnosed with Type II diabetes already have Diabetic Retinopathy at the time of that diagnosis. Severity of Diabetic Retinopathy worsens with duration.

This comprehensive project brings together some of the best scientific minds and their technical expertise to develop treatment strategies for Diabetic Retinopathy. The project will identify new genes that may be potentially suitable for therapies and develop appropriate animal models for the purpose of formulating and testing new therapeutic strategies.

Disease: Neovascularisation, Diabetic Retinopathy of prematurity, Macular Degeneration, Central Retinal Vein Reocclusion
Platform: Basic Research Gene Therapy and Animal Models

The aim of this project is to develop a long-term treatment for diabetes-related retinal neovascularisation, reduce the occurrence of diabetic macular oedema and provide a highly effective treatment for age-related macular degeneration related choroidal neovascularisation before vision loss. The proposed technique would potentially be a major advance in disease management by providing a significantly improved or complementary treatment to the current therapies of laser photocoagulation, vitrectomy and photodynamic therapy. The proposed strategy utilizes recombinant virus-mediated gene delivery which basically produces the therapeutic agent specifically at the location of the disease. These studies addressing the feasibility of secretion gene therapy (SGT) will be readily applicable to our Gene Discovery.

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