23 June 2010

The newly appointed health minister, Earl Howe, chose to visit Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology as one of his first official visits.

During the visit, Earl Howe found out more about a range of technologies which are supported by UCL Business that are taking place at Moorfields and the institute.

Health minister Earl Howe said: “It is exciting to see first hand how innovative technology will give NHS patients the very best treatments and also furthers the UK’s standing in the biomedical research industry.

“Basing decisions for treatment on the latest research evidence helps NHS doctors, nurses, GPs and health professionals to provide patients with the most effective and appropriate care.

“We want to give more patients the opportunity to take part in clinical trials wherever they live in the country, and we therefore need to encourage pharmaceutical, biotech and medical devices industries to conduct trials in England rather than abroad.“

Earl Howe was informed about the following technologies which are currently being developed by UCL and UCLB:

• The development of a novel anti-scarring tablet which has the potential to prevent the need for numerous operations following surgical treatment for glaucoma, one of the most common eye conditions and the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness
• The award-winning computer based test, Moorfields motion displacement test, offers a portable, affordable and easy-to-use alternative to traditional glaucoma detection tests
• The London Project to Cure Blindness, which is exploring the use of stem cell technology to replace eye cells affected by age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60 in the western world
• Corneal stem cell transplantation, a new technique to restore function to a damaged cornea in patients who have suffered an eye injury or disease system for detecting glaucoma in the community
• Gene therapy for the treatment of inherited retinal disorders, which was first performed at Moorfields in 2007 and has since been used to treat eight adults and children suffering from RPE65 deficiency, a rare genetic disorder

Professor Peng Khaw, Moorfields’ director of research and development said “We were delighted to have the opportunity to tell the new minister about a few of the important research initiatives going on here at Moorfields and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

“Our partnership with the institute and our joint status as the only specialist ophthalmic National Institute for Health Research biomedical research centre means that we are able to develop innovative treatments for a range of eye diseases and make a real difference to our patients’ lives – not just now, but in the future too.”

Links

Further Information
Photograph shows health minister Earl Howe with Moorfields glaucoma patient Julia Margetts and Professor Steven Brocchini, who is working on a new anti-scarring treatment.

Please contact Dr Rachel Hemsley r.hemsley@uclb.com, T+44 (0)207 679 9000