PAX6 and the Cornea: An Eye to the Future

Thanos giving his presentation at the conferenceOne of the speakers at this year’s conference was Thanos Papadimitropoulos from University of Liverpool. He told us about his team’s research, funded by Fight for Sight, into a potential new therapy that may one day be able to slow down or stop the progression of aniridia.

His talk got a positive reaction from the delegates, and afterwards he took the time to discuss his research further with those who wanted more information. One said: “When I spoke to him at lunch, he clarified things and was extremely helpful.”

Below you can see the video of Thanos’ presentation, followed by his written review of the day. For more information about his team’s research, please visit their blog, where they will post updates as the study progresses.

Review by Thanos Papadimitropoulos

Recently I was invited to take part in the annual conference of Aniridia Network UK. There, I was given the opportunity to present the work we undertake in Liverpool University, alongside Dr. Kevin Hamill and Prof. Colin Willoughby, developing a therapeutic tool for Aniridia Associated Keratopathy. It was revitalising (and somewhat intimidating) to be able to communicate my research to the people who my work focuses upon, those affected by Aniridia rather than my usual audience of research scientists and clinicians. I certainly got a lot out of it, and I hope the audience appreciated it too!

From my day at the meeting, it is evident that a tight community is being formed around people that are or will face similar difficulties and challenges due to their eye condition. A lot of work is being done from the organisers to keep people informed and up to date with all the different aspects of Aniridia. And, maybe more importantly, form a network that provides emotional support and the chance to make new friends. If you are reading this as a patient I encourage you to check out the network.

Coming back from a conference that is organised not by big pharmaceuticals or academics but by the patients, and for the patients, helps put some things that I am doing into real-world perspective. Although the final aim of our work is to develop a therapeutic tool for AAK, speaking with patients also provides us with knowledge and ideas of how we can ease the burden of the people affected by Aniridia. It’s easy to see our work as cells in a dish or even pieces of RNA but the implications on quality of life and what matters to the patient is key to our research going in the right direction. We can’t underestimate the ideas that we gain from these meetings, ideas that we will soon start to put in motion.

A big thanks go to the organisers for a flawless conference throughout the day and to the people that showed an interest in our research and were really friendly throughout. This was my first time speaking at one of these meetings and I couldn’t have been made more welcome. It really was inspirational and informative to get a chance to interact with everyone.

I think my closing remark on my presentation probably sums up the most important thing I took with me from the conference.

“We, scientists, tend to lose ourselves in the labs, or with our faces stuck against our computer screens. It is nice to be reminded WHY we do WHAT we do, and for WHOM.”

Thank You

Thanos Papadimitropoulos

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About Aniridia Network UK

A charity support group for people with the genetic visual impairment aniridia and their families in the UK. Our vision is that people with/associated with aniridia are hopeful, confident, supported and well informed regarding aniridia. Founded in 2000. Registered as a charity in 2011 with HMRC reference XT26830
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