Middle east patients likely to be a part of breakthrough eye trial

British researchers announced the results of the first clinical trial to test a revolutionary gene therapy treatment for a type of inherited blindness.The results, published earlier this year, showed that the experimental treatment was safe and could improve sight.

Moreover, there is something for the Asians to take pride in. Patients from the Middle east are likely to participate to the experimental eye treatment trial.

Professor Ali explained that the trial results took 14 years in the making; with the first five years spent on developing the technology to deliver genes to the eye and the next five devoted to proof of concept studies.Blindness is thought to be the biggest cause of disability in the UAE and hereditary eye disease is the major cause of blindness in children here, according to Foresight, a UAE-based non-profit organisation and a branch of Tamkeen.

Prof Ali, who was a key speaker at the Emirates Ophthalmology Conference 2008 held from November 20 to 22 in Dubai said,

"The results indicated that light sensitivity in the treated eye increased by up to one thousand fold.The next phase of the study in 2009 will study nine patients and increase the dose of the genetic material administered to patients."

Dr Chris Canning, CEO and Medical Director of Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, added:

"Professor Ali’s recent ground breaking developments with human clinical trials in gene therapy suggest that these results justify support for the development of gene therapies for a wide range of eye disorders bringing new hope to millions of people."

Source: Khaleej Times Online

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