Eye disease clinical trial in sight

Posted 12 Mar 2024
Eye health researchers at Flinders hope their new research project could be a stepping stone to a clinical trial on a potential new treatment for macular oedema.

Macular oedema is an accumulation of fluid in the central retina or macula of the eye, and is a sight-threatening complication of several types of eye disease.

Professor Justine Smith, the recipient of a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant, will focus her research on macular oedema in inherited retinal disease - a diverse group of genetic conditions.

“Macular oedema associated with an inherited retinal disease is a challenging clinical situation because, unlike other diseases with causes that can be targeted with specific treatments, the underlying abnormality cannot be corrected in the vast majority of patients,” Professor Smith explains.

“A range of treatments have been attempted... but the evidence for efficacy is poor, and they have side effects that limit long-term use, so this is clearly an unmet medical need.”

Recently a new option – a biologic drug called interferon-alpha - has been discussed for treatment of macular oedema associated with some forms of the eye inflammation, uveitis.

Professor Smith’s work will now explore mechanisms of interferon-alpha and assess its effect on macular oedema using eye tissue donated to the Eye Bank of South Australia, with future plans to initiate clinical trials in patients with inherited retinal diseases.

This project is one of 31 exciting new health and medical research projects to receive funding in Flinders Foundation’s annual health seed grant thanks to donations from generous individuals and funds raised by supporters and organisation.

Project Title: Exploring how interferon-alpha improves macular oedema in inherited retinal diseases

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