Moorfields Eye Hospital is developing a new tool to help doctors better diagnose and treat glaucoma.
A team at Moorfields, led by consultant ophthalmologist Dr Anthony Khawaja, together with national and international co-researchers, has spent the last two years searching for genetic factors that contribute to glaucoma. Supported by Moorfields Eye Charity funding, Anthony has been involved in the team’s discovery of over 100 new genetic spelling mistakes which contribute towards someone getting glaucoma later in life.
A new tool for a new approach
Now Anthony and his team are setting up a new ‘biobank’ (the Moorfields Glaucoma BioResource) which will link data from glaucoma patients at Moorfields Eye Hospital and data from the National Institute for Health Research BioResource with their new research findings.
This new database will help researchers work out which genetic factors are most closely linked to the onset of serious glaucoma. This will help doctors personalise glaucoma treatment based on the genetic profile of each patient, and identity those patients most at risk of sight loss as soon as they are diagnosed.
Dr Khawaja said: “With the global glaucoma burden set to increase dramatically due to an ageing population, there is an urgent need to innovate how we manage glaucoma.”
In two years of research, which was supported by Moorfields Eye Charity, we’ve discovered over 100 genetic factors that contribute to glaucoma.
The Moorfields Glaucoma BioResource is the first step towards using those factors to identify and treat those at highest risk more quickly and prevent them from going blind, whilst protecting low-risk patients from the side-effects of treatment.
Turning research into treatments
Ailish Murray, director of grants and research at Moorfields Eye Charity, welcomed the new tool.
“This is really exciting news," she said. "We are delighted to have been supporting Anthony for a number of years now, enabling him to focus on his research. Building a biobank will pull together everything he and the team have learned about the genetics of glaucoma, with the aim of helping doctors detect those patients most at risk of losing their sight.”
It’s fantastic to see years of hard work translating into something that could change the way we treat glaucoma and bring real benefit to patients across the UK and across the globe.