Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai has launched a new genetic service in the UAE to provide patients with genetic testing and enables access to the latest information on drug and gene therapy trials to treat inherited eye diseases
Gene therapy involves surgery to the eye and an injection under the retina with a virus that is used to package and deliver a gene to the diseased tissue. There are many gene therapy and drug treatment clinical trials currently under investigation for a range of genes. So, it is very important for patients to identify the genetic cause of their eye condition. With this knowledge, consultants will be able to offer patients personalised medicine, which is based on their own genetic mutation.
The first two patients in the UAE – two siblings, a sister and brother, will undergo genetic testing, to identify the cause of their retinal disease and enable them to access the relevant clinical trials that may be able to offer a treatment for their blinding condition.
Both the siblings (9-year old Mohammed and 11-year old Eryam), who both have an early onset severe retinal dystrophy. The retina is the light-sensing layer of the eye that converts light to chemical signals that pass to the brain via the optic nerve to help us see. The siblings’ hereditary eye disease is caused by a harmful change in a gene that affects the retina, this leads to a reduction of the caliber of the blood vessels supplying the retina, a pale optic nerve, widespread pigment deposition in the retina and thinning of the area of central vision called the macula.
The family has decided to go forward with Moorfields for a clinically accredited genetic test called the Oculome, a next-generation sequencing exome gene panel that screens over 450 known eye disease-causing genes, including 240 which are specifically related to retinal-disease.
Dr Mariya Moosajee, MBBS BSc PhD FRCOphth, is a Consultant Ophthalmologist from Moorfields Eye Hospital London and an eminent researcher specialising in Genetic Eye Disease, and a Visiting Consultant to Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai.