February Marking Rare Disease Day 2023
Rare Eye Diseases (REDs) collectively represent a major cause of visual impairment and blindness for children and young adults in Europe. But importantly, REDs also affect adults and the ageing population.
Defective wound healing at the cornea and ocular surface, excessive inflammation, nerve degeneration, stem cell dysfunction, and aberrant vessel ingrowth are the common denominators in many REDs, representing a critical medical problem.
Researchers at CÚRAM, led by Professor Thomas Ritter, are developing new approaches to address these rare conditions with the aim of making therapies more effective. Currently, the primary focus of Prof. Ritter’s research is on the application of mesenchymal stromal cell-based therapeutics to modulate corneal injury and transplantation and on its understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind it. In particular, small vesicles secreted from these mesenchymal stromal cells with proven therapeutic efficacy could pave the way for new effective medicines for REDs in the future.
Professor Thomas Ritter is an immunologist and lecturer in Regenerative Medicine at the University of Galway and has over 25 years experience in the field of immunomodulation in organ transplantation and ocular surface disease.