CERA

Science and Research

Inherited retinal disease research

From gene and cell therapies to the bionic eye, our scientists work across a number of research areas to advance our knowledge of IRDs and develop potential treatments.

Overview

Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are the leading cause of blindness in working age adults. Our researchers are working to advance our scientific understanding of the genes that cause different IRDs, as well as striving to develop potential treatments.

To do this, our scientists use innovative stem cell technologies, cellular reprogramming and gene editing techniques to better understand the workings of the retina and develop new therapies that could restore sight.

We are also working with the University of Melbourne to create a national clinical database of people with IRDs, which will help us advance understanding of IRDs and identify patients suitable for clinical trials.

Our Bionic Eye team has developed a suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis that is being trialled in patients with retinitis pigmentosa, helping them navigate the world.

Why this research is important

Millions of working-age people worldwide are affected by IRDs like retinitis pigmentosa, macular dystrophy, or a range of rarer genetic conditions. More than 200 genes are known to be associated with retinal diseases.

Our research will help advance our understanding of what causes blinding eye disease, and ultimately help develop treatments and cures.

Key research questions

  • How do we generate human retinal cells in the lab using stem cell technologies?
  • Can we regenerate the retina to treat blindness caused by retinal degenerative diseases?
  • Can we use new gene editing technology to develop gene therapy for inherited retinal diseases?
  • What are the signals that support retinal cells for healthy vision?
  • Why do common and complex eye diseases develop? What are the molecular underpinnings to these diseases?
  • How can emerging biotechnologies be best used to treat inherited blinding disease?
  • Does use of a retinal prosthesis at home result in better outcomes for patients?

Researchers