Researchers intend to find a better treatment for serious corneal disease

17.11.2016

Corneal dystrophy is an eye disease causing protein deposits in the cornea leading to decreased or complete lack of vision and pain. The existing treatment options are not sustainable. Therefore, Danish researchers from Aarhus University and Aalborg University Hospital now intend to find a better and long lasting treatment for the disease. VELUX FONDEN supports the project.

Today corneal dystrophies are treated surgically where the deposits are removed with a laser, or the patient gets a corneal transplant from a donor. However, the treatments has several challenges as the deposits return after a few years, the surgery can only be used a limited number of times and there is a shortage of donor corneas. Therefore there is a need for more durable solutions

Therefore, a medical and non-surgically treatment would be ideal, and that is exactly what a team of researchers from Aarhus University and Aalborg University Hospital have joined forces to find.

Corneal dystrophy is an eye disease causing protein deposits in the cornea leading to decreased or complete lack of vision. The existing treatment options are not sustainable, and therefore it would be ideal if there were other non-surgically ways to treat the disease, and this is exactly what a team of researchers from Aarhus University and Aalborg University Hospital have joined forces to find. Photo: Eung Kweon Kim, Department of Ophthalmology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea

Corneal dystrophy is caused by mutations in the genes

Corneal dystrophy is a hereditray disease caused by mutations in the genes coding for proteins in the cornea. So far, more than 60 different mutations are found in the gene encoding the protein Transforming Growth Factor Beta-Induced protein (TGFBIp), all of which result in a corneal clouding and thereby severe visual impairment and pain for the patient.

With the new research project, the researchers want to study the molecular mechanisms underlying the deposition of TGFBIp. The researchers will seek to determine the functions of the TGFBIp as a mean to better understand the pathology of corneal dystrophy.

Based on the biochemical studies, the researchers also plan to make relevant animal models, which are expected to contribute to a better understanding of the disease, and thereby ultimately to contribute to the development of a non-surgical treatment.

The project takes place at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University, headed by Professor Jan J. Enghild, and at Aalborg University Hospital, headed by Professor Henrik Vorum.

The research teams has received a grant from the VELUX FONDEN of just over DKK 10 million to create a better foundation for the future treatment of corneal dystrophy.

Press release from Aarhus University, November 2016