Grant for health re­search

Central Leader - - NEWS -

An Auck­land doc­tor has re­ceived a re­search grant to de­velop a biodegrad­able eye im­plant that could rev­o­lu­tionise treat­ment for blind­ing dis­eases.

In the­ory the im­plant would see pa­tients with dis­eases such as age-re­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion avoid­ing fre­quent in­jec­tions into their eyes, which is the cur­rent treat­ment.

Mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion is a med­i­cal con­di­tion that usu­ally af­fects older adults. It is a ma­jor cause of blind­ness in peo­ple aged over 50 and makes it dif­fi­cult for them to read or recog­nise faces.

Ilva Ru­penthal from the Univer­sity of Auck­land has been awarded a $149,994 Emerg­ing Re­searcher First Grant from the Health Re­search Coun­cil to de­sign a biodegrad­able and in­jectable im­plant for the eye that will slowly re­lease drugs over a pe­riod of six to 12 months.

The im­plant will need re­plac­ing only once or twice a year and topup doses of drugs can be re­leased us­ing non-in­va­sive light ac­ti­va­tion through the cornea.

She also plans to de­velop ef­fi­cient gene car­ri­ers that will pro­tect the drugs from de­grad­ing and im­prove their pen­e­tra­tion into the reti­nal tis­sues and cel­lu­lar up­take – re­duc­ing the ef­fec­tive dose re­quired.

The re­search coun­cil has awarded 10 grants this year to health re­searchers seek­ing to es­tab­lish in­de­pen­dent ca­reers.

‘‘I’m very pleased that through th­ese grants we can give the next gen­er­a­tion of tal­ented re­searchers the chance to lead their own re­search,’’ chief ex­ec­u­tive Robin Olds says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.