The European Union has supported a research proposal on new therapies to restore visual acuity in rare and severe ocular surface diseases under the Horizon Health program. The RESTORE VISION consortium, consisting of the Universities of Cologne, Galway, Milan, Linjöping and Paris, and four industrial partners, has received a total of eight million euros in funding over four years. The aim of this application is to establish new therapeutic options for seven rare, previously untreatable diseases of the ocular surface (aniridia, neurotrophic keratopathy, limbal stem cell insufficiency, scarring mucous membrane pemphigoid, EEC syndrome, corneal neovascularization, high-risk keratoplasty) by developing new drugs or repurposing existing drugs.
In collaboration with the Center for Clinical Studies (ZKS) Cologne, several pilot studies with patients are planned. The project leader from the Cologne side is Univ.-Prof. Dr. Claus Cursiefen, Director of the Center for Ophthalmology at the University Hospital of Cologne and the Faculty of Medicine: “Especially the European collaborative research and the possibility to conduct several first-in-men clinical trials at the Cologne site should enable a big step towards new therapies for rare, blinding eye diseases. We are especially pleased about the synergy with the existing DFG Research Group 2240.” The proposal was rated “very good” with 14 out of 15 points.