Skip to main content
Start of main content.

Research advances closer to cure for untreatable blindness

A cure for the western world's leading cause of untreatable blindness could be within reach following research breakthroughs at Bond University.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes cells in the retina at the back of the eye to die and sufferers gradually lose their sight.

Associate Professor Nigel Barnett of the university's Clem Jones Centre for Regenerative Medicine knows the toll AMD can take.

"My Dad had AMD. It started in his mid-seventies and by his late seventies, early eighties, it was affecting what he could see," Dr Barnett said.

"It was hard knowing what it was and that there was nothing that could be done.

"If you live into your eighties, there's a big chance you're going to get AMD."

Dr Barnett is leading a team which hopes to implant new retinal cells in the eye, restoring vision.

The researchers first developed a new technique for efficiently growing the retinal cells from stem cells.

They then produced a unique artificial membrane which carries the cells and experiments in rats have shown the treatment can stop blindness in the short-term.

"The next step is to make sure the newly-implanted cells survive over the long term," he said.

"We don't want them to succumb to the same issues that killed the original cells.

"We're investigating a number of different methodologies and techniques to do this."

These include:

* Genetically modifying the stem cells so that the retinal cells they produce carry a built-in protection;

* Modifying the membrane to incorporate drugs or other factors that will allow the cells to survive longer;

* Applying drugs directly to the eye to reduce the inflammation and other issues that lead to the death of the cells in AMD.

Dr Barnett said he hoped to begin human clinical trials in 2023.

The research has been funded by the Clem Jones Foundation, the Cutmore Bequest to Bond University, and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

More from Bond

  • Khawaja puts Stern defence of cricket formula to the test

    Cricket star Usman Khawaja's MBA mind challenges Professor Steven Stern's defence of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

    Read article
  • A construction degree for the digital age

    Bachelor of Design in Architecture alumnus Ryan McKillop explains why Bond's Master of Building Information Modelling and Integrated Project Delivery was the clear next step to accelerate his career.

    Read article
  • No lab, no problem: Virtual Scientist takes experiments to remote students

    Three Bond University academics have received another accolade for creating a website where students conduct virtual experiments.

    Read article
  • Let the buyer beware of auction loopholes

    Homebuyers can be caught out by a little-known auction loophole. Property expert Professor Alan Patching shares his tips.

    Read article
  • To the uni student who feels like something is missing…

    Starting university is an exciting time, but for Charlotte Gibbs, her first experience at a big uni interstate just didn't feel 'right'. After visiting Bond and the Gold Coast, though, things immediately clicked into place.

    Read article
Previous Next