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Sight Impairment: Research

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to support the continuation of research into gene therapy for inherited blindness conducted at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Institute of Ophthalmology; and if he will make a statement. (202308)

The ocular gene therapy research being undertaken by University College London Institute of Ophthalmology and Moofield Eye Hospital’Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is at forefront of world science and should lead to the restoration of sight to many people. The project has been directly funded by the Department, along with other funding partners. The Moorfields BRC has been allocated some £14 million over five years by the Department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The project is an exemplar of translational research, and illustrates the importance of getting cutting-edge science from the laboratory to the patients whom it can benefit. To that end, we have set up the Office for Strategic Co-ordination for Health Research, chaired by Professor Sir John Bell, working with the Medical Research Council and the NIHR to ensure a major improvement in the translation of basic research into health and economic benefits; and have invested in a single health research fund that will rise to £1.7 billion by 2010-11.