Eyes and vision

This programme aims to deliver improvements in the visual health, quality of life and wealth of the nation by translating innovations in informatics, diagnostics, monitoring and therapies into meaningful outcomes.

The programme is the worlds number one ranked research partnership in ophthalmology. It focusses on regenerative therapies and novel drugs, gene therapy, novel devices (including diagnostic and surgical), imaging and functional assessment of the eye, inflammation and infection, genotyping/phenotyping and informatics. These areas cross over with key areas of activity within the Academic Health and Science Centre including informatics, personalised medicine, lifelong health, global reach, partnership working, industry engagement, patient and public involvement, research capacity development and talent management.

Strategic objectives

  • To speed up the development of a range of innovative new cellular and molecular therapies which address unmet needs in the field of ophthalmology and in the human body
  • To establish gene therapy as a treatment for a range of ocular disorders
  • To increase industry involvement and provide inward investment to the UK

The eyes and vision programme has three workstreams. These are:

  • Rapid translation of novel therapies and diagnostics through to man
  • Creation of a fully integrated clinical, researching and teaching site for Eyes and Vision
  • Improved clinical management algorithms and pathways through the development of advanced informatics and analytic platforms.

Rapid translation of novel therapies and diagnostics through to man

This workstream aims to achieve rapid translation of world leading basic, translational and clinical research innovations in to new therapies and diagnostics. It focusses on world leading translational projects e.g. gene therapy, stem cell transplantation, novel therapeutic molecules, devices and cellular and sub cellular biological imaging coupled with large scale clinical data.

It is envisaged that this workstream will result in investment and economic gain for the UK and will enable the Eyes and Vision Academic Medical Centre and the UCLPartners Academic Health Science Network to continue its world leading reputation.

Progress to date

As part of the London Project to Cure Blindness, the first embryonic stem cell surgery was conducted to reverse vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration. The first patient was recruited at Moorfields Eye Hospital for the Phase I/II study within the national benchmark of 70-days.

Creation of a fully integrated clinical, researching and teaching site for Eyes and Vision

This workstream aims to create a new integrated clinical, research and teaching site for Eyes and Vision within UCLPartners Academic Health Science Centre, with major links to local world leading research areas.

It is envisaged that this new site will bring together clinical care, research and education and link in with world leading local research areas including the Crick Institute, neurosciences, engineering and pharmacy.

Progress to date

The Academic Medical Centre continues to progress the vision and plans for a joint UCL institute of ophthalmology and Moorfields facility near St Pancras, London. This includes securing a suitable site and designing a building that allows full integration of biomedical research and clinical care.

Improved clinical management algorithms and pathways through the development of advanced informatics and analytic platforms

The aim of this workstream is to develop better clinical management tools for important ophthalmic conditions that are a heavy burden on people throughout their lives and on national health care systems.

Progress to date

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has established a collaboration with Google DeepMind to use artificial intelligence programs to produce a retina-scanning system that detects the early signs of eye disease. The program will analyse over one million retina scans from Moorfields patients. This analysis may provide novel measures for specific diseases and help to monitor if treatments are succeeding.

This research has the potential to revolutionise the way professionals carry out eye tests and could lead to earlier detection and treatment of common eye diseases.

Programme leadership

Professor Sir Peng Khaw, Programme Director – AHSC Eyes and Vision Programme

Links

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre
OpenEyes