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Donate to help find a cure for Australians with inherited retinal disorders

Inherited retinal disorders are now the leading cause of blindness in working age adults.

For patients with this type of disorder, they have been told there is nothing much that can be done. Until now.

This year’s tax appeal focuses on CERA researcher, Dr Thomas Edwards, and his work on finding a cure for inherited retinal disorders.

“Through my research, I know that the best prospect for a cure for inherited retinal disorders lies in gene therapy,” he said.

Dr Thomas Edwards is an ophthalmologist at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital with a PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK. Supported by Professor Jonathan Crowston’s mentorship and training early in his ophthalmology career, Dr Edwards was awarded a prestigious Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellowship in 2014 to study in the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford, UK—a world-leading centre for gene therapy.

“During my time at Oxford, I learned how to perform the latest retinal surgery techniques,” said Dr Edwards. “Now that I am back in Melbourne at CERA, I want to combine my clinical and research skills to develop new treatments for incurable inherited eye diseases in Australia.”

The promise of gene therapy is very exciting for those with an inherited retinal disorder. In gene therapy, a normal copy of a gene is delivered to the retina to prevent further vision loss. Gene therapy also has the potential to restore vision.

A condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa—an inherited genetic disease of the retina—is ideal to test the impact of gene therapy because there is a good understanding of the genetics of this condition.Dr Tom Edwards

Until recently, someone with Retinitis Pigmentosa was deemed incurable,” said Prof Jonathan Crowston, Managing Director, CERA. “But with the advent of gene therapy and Tom’s work, treatment is a possibility.”

Dr Edwards’ research has the potential to give hope and save sight for thousands of Australians.

“My hope is that we will soon be entering an era where, for the first time, a treatment exists for patients with incurable inherited retinal degeneration that halts or even reverses vision loss.”

With the public’s generous support, CERA will be able to establish the first ever Australian clinical gene therapy trial for an inherited retinal eye disorder.

Help CERA champion the eye health of Australians with untreatable vision loss.  Donate today.