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Macular disease research awarded $600,000

{{quote-a:r-w:400-I:2-Q:“Our latest round of grants are supporting exciting and innovative projects that will contribute to the body of evidence produced by Australian research.”-WHO:Julie Heraghty, Foundation CEO}}The grants, announced on World Sight Day, formed the fourth round of funding distributed by the Foundation since the program started in 2011 and brought the total commitment to $3.6 million during this period.“Our latest round of grants are supporting exciting and innovative projects that will contribute to the body of evidence produced by Australian research to support the macular disease community,” Foundation CEO Ms Julie Heraghty said.The grants were awarded to Associate Professor Alice Pébay of the Centre for Eye Research Australia, Professor Erica Fletcher from the University of Melbourne and Dr Fred Chen from the Lions Eye Institute of Western Australia.Pébay’s research centres on using pluripotent st cells to understand the mechanisms of dry AMD, while Fletcher’s study is focused on targeting monocyte phagosytosis to reduce AMD progression. Chen received a grant to support his efforts to find new genetic mutations for Stargardt macular degeneration, to help with preparations for clinical trials.“The Foundation is investing in the possibility of developing a new model for testing dry AMD utilising human retinal cells derived from st cells. We’re continuing funding into disease causation in the hope of developing a diagnostic blood test that will identify those at greatest risk for disease progression and a possible new avenue for treatment of dry AMD,” Heraghty explained, adding “For the first time, we are funding genetic work into the rare macular degeneration condition of Stargardt’s disease that affects younger Australians.”Heraghty also pointed out the Foundation plans to raise $10 million in 10 years, which is going to be funneled into AMD research.“Research is a journey of discovery, with the ultimate destination being a place where we can save sight. We all understand that research costs a lot of money and the journey is slow, but the consequence of not investing is the loss of vision for too many Australians,” Heraghty added.Finally, while the Australian Government has already outlined its investment into medical research in the Research Future Fund, the Foundation is pushing for the importance of AMD to be further recognised and elevated to a priority level in terms of government funding and support.WATCH VIDEO