Glasgow researchers focus on infant blindness

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) are investigating treatments for their efforts to tackling an inherited eye disease which causes severe vision loss and blindness in infants.

12 Mar 2015 by Emily McCormick

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) are focusing their efforts on tackling an inherited eye disease which causes severe vision loss and blindness in infants.

Dr Xinhau Shu, from the GCU School of Health and Life Sciences, is working to investigate Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA).

LCA is a rare degenerative genetic condition affecting the retina, which can cause severe vision loss and blindness in young children. Individuals with the condition inherit two copies of a defective gene, one from each parent, meaning the parents can be carriers of the disease without being affected themselves.

As part of a £40,000 research grant from Yorkhill Children’s Charity, Dr Shu will research the development of drugs to treat the condition by decreasing oxidative damage to the retina and improving the survival of photoreceptors.

Dr Shu will use zebrafish (pictured), a model organism for genetic and developmental research and which has similar retinas to humans, to focus on treating the molecular and cellular processes of the disease.

Chair of the Yorkhill Research Support Scheme, Professor Faisal Ahmed, said: “This is an exciting project on a major health problem for children.

Currently, there is no treatment for this eye condition and the funding provided by the Yorkhill Research Support Scheme will pave the way for a significant impact on the lives of babies born with this genetic condition.”

Results of the research are expected in 2016.

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