02 June 2023

Researchers at Linköping University are taking part in the largest European investment to date into diseases of the cornea. The aim is to restore vision in people with severe and rare eye diseases.

The RESTORE VISION Consortium has been awarded around SEK 90 million by the EU-financed research programme Horizon Europe. Around SEK 11 million of that goes to LiU, one of the partners in this project. RESTORE VISION is coordinated by the University of Galway, Ireland.

Professor Neil Lagali is leading a research group at LiU which over the past ten years has built up specialised knowledge on several rare corneal diseases. He and his colleagues have developed unique ways to study such diseases in preclinical models. The next step will involve using these models in the research project. Other partners in the consortium have identified medications already approved for treatment of various diseases such as depression, dizziness/nausea, cystic fibrosis and tumours. Experimental studies have shown these medications to have a positive affect also on the mechanisms behind certain rare eye diseases. The researchers will therefore, for the first time, evaluate the effects of these medications when used in the eye, to find out whether they can restore corneal function.Neil Lagali.Neil Lagali, professor at Linköping University. Photo credit Thor Balkhed

“It will be exciting to see whether a positive effect can be confirmed in living tissue in disease models. This could, if we’re successful, lay the foundations for future clinical studies on patients with very few treatment options available today,” says Neil Lagali.

Some 30 million people in Europe currently suffer from blindness and visual impairment. Rare eye diseases are a major cause of this. Currently existing treatments are expensive, not very effective and have considerable side effects. RESTORE VISION will target seven of these eye diseases, which combined are estimated to affect half a million patients.

The research project combines expertise from six research institutions in Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Spain, France and Germany, plus three companies and a patient organisation.

Translation by Anneli Mosell

Cornea research at LiU

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