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The Research section aims to provide an overview of the wide range of laboratory studies and clinical trials relevant to retinitis pigmentosa (RP) that are being conducted at many locations around the world. Special attention will be paid to the research work being done that may lead to potential future treatments for the RP group of inherited retinal diseases (About RP).

RP Fighting Blindness has invested more than £14million into cutting-edge research since the charity was founded in 1976. We are proud to support some of the best scientists and clinicians in the fields of ophthalmology and genetics and are currently funding the projects listed below. Every year we make difficult decisions about which new projects we should fund within our limited resources. We are determined to build on the progress that has already been made, maintaining momentum and driving forward the best and most promising research into inherited retinal dystrophies and possible treatments. Our ability to do so depends entirely on the contributions we receive from our wonderful supporters. To help us invest in as many new projects as possible this year, please consider making a donation to our Innovation Fund which you can find out about here.

There is currently no cure for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and apart from one or two very rare forms (Refsum syndrome and Bassen-Kornzweig syndrome (Abetalipoproteinaemia)) there are no proven treatments that slow or stop the condition from gradually worsening over time. There is real optimism and past and on-going clinical trials indicate that treatments may start to become available during the next decade.There will increasingly be more clinical trials to determine the safety and effectiveness of a wide range of potential treatments over the next 10 years. Multiple different avenues are being investigated that will hopefully result in new therapies for RP and other related conditions; the various treatment strategies being investigated include Gene Therapy, Stem Cell Therapy, Transplantation and Artificial Vision – these and other possible future treatments are discussed in separate sections, with links provided for further detailed information.

These multiple avenues of research are not mutually exclusive, with it being possible that combinations of these potential therapies may be more valuable than when used alone, including combining gene therapy or stem cell therapy with neuroprotective approaches (Growth Factors). In addition, these interventions may be applied sequentially, depending on the stage of the retinal condition, for example pharmacological approaches may be helpful at early stages and stem cell therapies at later stages.

RP represents a large group of inherited conditions that are caused by a diverse set of faulty genes (Genetics and retinitis pigmentosa). Some of the treatment options being researched are aimed at treating specific faulty genes (including Gene Therapy), whilst other research efforts are studying potential therapies that can be used in a broader range of RP types or possibly even all types of RP irrespective of the underlying faulty gene (including Growth Factors and Stem Cell Therapy). Furthermore, some of the treatment options may be useful to people with early or mild disease (including Nutritional Studies), whilst other treatments may be more appropriate for those with late or severe vision loss (for example Artificial Vision).

The good news is that research progress is increasingly is rapid and efforts will be made to keep information up to date on the website. The most recent research findings can be located at Latest Research News. RP Fighting Blindness is committed to funding and stimulating high quality medical research aimed at understanding the causes of RP and developing and evaluating new treatments (Research Funding and Applications).

We are grateful to Professor Michel Michaelides BSc MB BS MD FRCOphth FACs of UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital for authoring this section and the About RP section of this website.

RP Fighting Blindness is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). We support the principle of using animals in research when it is necessary to advance understanding of health and disease and to develop new treatments. This research only takes place where there is no alternative available. All AMRC member charities support this principle, as outlined in the statement linked to below.

Our research community fully supports the implementation of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement of animals use in research).

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