Research and Investigators Supported by the
Foundation for Retinal Research
Because of the hereditary nature of LCA, current emphasis is on understanding the genetics of the LCA family of diseases and identifying the various genes whose mutations lead to LCA pathology. Along with this, studying the clinical manifestations of the disease process as expressed in the retina is also very important.
Since there are now several possibilities for treatment of LCA on the horizon, the FRR is actively supporting some of these efforts directly and indirectly. It is hoped, for example, that our efforts in funding leading researchers in the genetics field will find all the LCA genes and lead to gene replacement therapy for LCA patients.
Another important area is that of sight restoration through retinal implantation of natural photoreceptor cells, stem cells or an artificial retinal prosthetic device. In retinal cell transplantation, freshly implanted retinal tissue or stem cells might take the place of degenerated photoreceptors. Here, the FRR funds the leading transplant laboratory in the world. Similarly, the FRR supports researchers involved in developing the retinal prosthetic device – the “retinal chip”. This device will mimic the function of the photoreceptors in a patient’s eye and has the potential of restoring a high degree of functional vision.
Finally, the FRR leads international efforts to unite clinicians in their efforts to move to clinical trials for LCA. Disease classification, patient registries and aid in establishing sites for clinical trials are all part of the FRR game plan for conquering LCA.