Belfast researchers granted almost £125,000 to investigate blindness condition in babies | Action Medical Research

Belfast researchers granted almost £125,000 to investigate blindness condition in babies

22 February 2011

Researchers in Belfast have just been awarded a grant of almost £125,000 by Action Medical Research – the leading UK-wide medical research charity dedicated to helping babies and children.

The charity has been supporting significant medical breakthroughs for nearly 60 years, and today announced its latest round of funding to top research institutes at universities and hospitals investigating conditions affecting babies and children.

In this latest round of funding, the charity has given £124,652 to the Centre for Vision and Vascular Science, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science, Queen’s University Belfast and the Department of Opthalmology, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. for a project towards a cell-based therapy for retinopathy of prematurity.

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a disease caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina of the eye that can cause blindness in children. 

Worldwide at least 50,000 children are blind from ROP and premature infants born earlier than 32 weeks of age and of low birth weight are at risk of the disease. The condition is caused by the change in oxygen levels from the womb (low levels of oxygen) to the incubator used in the neonatal intensive care unit. 

Many babies born so soon require extra oxygen to help their developing brain but changes in oxygen levels cause blood vessels in the eye to become damaged and then regrow in the wrong place on top of the retina in the back of the eye.  These new blood vessels affect the vision of the patient and can lead to permanent vision loss or blindness. 

Action Medical Research funds a total of approximately £3 million worth of research grants every year, with grant rounds in the spring and autumn, as well as awarding Research Training Fellowships in February.

None of our work would be possible without the generosity of people who make donations, raise funds and take part in events, as well as our trust and corporate partners. Action Medical Research receives no income from the government or any other statutory source.

Alexandra Dedman, Senior Research Evaluation Manager, said: “At Action Medical Research we are determined to stop the suffering of babies and children caused by disease and disability. We know that medical research can save and change children’s lives. The charity finds and funds some of the best medical research in the world for the benefit of babies, children and young people.

“Our gold standard scientific review process ensures that we only fund the best doctors and researchers in children’s hospitals, specialist units and universities across the UK and we are delighted to announce our latest grant awards.”

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NOTES TO EDITORS:

For further information please contact:

Claudine Powell, Communications Manager

T: 01403 327478

E: cpowell@action.org.uk

W: action.org.uk

Action Medical Researchis the leading UK-wide medical research charity dedicated to helping babies and children. We know that medical research can save and change children’s lives. For nearly 60 years we have been instrumental in significant medical breakthroughs, including the development of the UK polio vaccine and ultrasound scanning in pregnancy.

Today, we continue to find and fund the very best medical research to help stop the suffering of babies and children caused by disease and disability. We want to make a difference in:

  • tackling premature birth and treating sick and vulnerable babies
  • helping children affected by disability, disabling conditions and infections
  • targeting rare diseases that together severely affect many forgotten children.
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