Professors James Bainbridge and Robin Ali given top award for gene therapy breakthrough

Two Moorfields staff, Professor James Bainbridge and Professor Robin Ali have recently been named among six international winners of the largest prize in vision research, the 2018 António Champalimaud Vision Award, worth €1 million.

The team won the award for their work in developing a gene therapy to treat Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), a genetic cause of childhood blindness. 

Both Professor Bainbridge and Ali work across Moorfields and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. At Moorfields Professor Bainbridge works as a consultant retinal surgeon and also works alongside Professor Ali within the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, a facility jointly operated by Moorfields and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology which enables researchers to combine academic research with close contact with patients.

Commenting on the award, Alfred Sommer, Chairman of the Champalimaud Vision Award jury said: “This year’s Champalimaud laureates are recognised for their development of the many interrelated techniques necessary for human gene therapy, and for applying these to successfully treat Leber’s Amaurosis, which otherwise results in blindness at an early age. This is the first, and still only example of successful gene therapy in humans that corrects an inherited genetic defect and is therefore a milestone in medical therapeutics.”

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