Birmingham leads UK-wide biobank in rare eye disease

A Birmingham-based Consultant Ophthalmologist and researcher, Professor Alastair Denniston, has won funding to set up a UK-wide resource to aid research into a rare disease which can lead to blindness.

Two charities – Fight for Sight and the Birdshot Uveitis Society – are jointly funding the research to improve understanding of the rare, sight-threatening disease, known as Birdshot Chorioretinopathy.

This funding will help establish a national biobank and registry for Birdshot Chorioretinopathy, helping patients and researchers across the whole of the UK in a project led by Prof Denniston at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor Denniston said: “The aim of the biobank and registry is to share our resources and knowledge to help all of us understand the condition better and work together towards developing better treatments and delivering personalised care for this serious eye condition.”

Birdshot chorioretinopathy, also known as birdshot uveitis, is a rare, hard to treat condition, which affects the choroid and retina and can lead to blindness. The condition is thought to be an auto-immune disorder, meaning that the body’s own defence system for fighting infection starts to attack parts of itself.

“This is a resource for the whole of the UK,” said Professor Denniston, adding: “One of the most important things about this project is that it was conceived by patients, and is all about patients and researchers working together to deliver the research that patients say is important to them. We believe that this has the potential to transform research into this rare disease, and make a real difference in terms of improving treatments in the future.”