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Fight for Sight funds UK’s first large-scale glaucoma biobank study

Dr Anthony Khawaja will lead the team that will develop a tool to identify at-risk patients

18 Nov 2019 by Emily McCormick

National sight loss charity Fight for Sight has announced that it will fund a project to create the UK’s first large-scale glaucoma biobank, a tool to help personalise glaucoma treatment and identity patients most at risk of sight loss.

Researcher Dr Anthony Khawaja and his team will establish a data resource that will be able to make better genetic predictions on which glaucoma patients are likely to worsen and require the most intensive treatment. They will be linking data from glaucoma patients at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the National Institute for Health Research BioResource.

The biobank, which will be called the Moorfields Glaucoma BioResource, will be the first of its kind for glaucoma. It is being developed in response to a recent study by Dr Khawaja, which was part supported by Fight for Sight and identified over 100 genetic factors that are associated with intraocular pressure and the risk of developing glaucoma.

If the development of the resource is successful, it is hoped that prediction models will be developed to enable patients at high risk of losing their sight to be identified from the point of diagnosis, Fight for Sight explained.

Discussing the project, Dr Khawaja, said: “With the global glaucoma burden set to increase dramatically due to an ageing population, there is an urgent need to innovate our glaucoma management strategy. If we’re able to successfully develop this resource and establish a genetic prediction model, we hope to better detect the most serious cases of glaucoma to prevent sight loss, and to identify low-risk glaucoma patients to reduce over-treatment and resource misuse.”

Head of research and policy at Fight for Sight, Dr Rubina Ahmed, added: “A biobank for glaucoma is a much-needed step towards personalising care and improving the efficacy of treatment for this devastating condition. This will reduce the burden on both patients and the NHS.”

The project is funded through the Fight for Sight Small Grant Award.

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