Government response

Funding for age-related macular degeneration research campaign

The Department of Health's response to the Macular Society’s campaign for funding for research into age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

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The Macular Society, the national charity for anyone affected by central vision loss, has published a report, Collaborating to find a cure, recommending a unified approach to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) research and a new funding model.

Investment in eye-related research by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has increased from £7.1 million in the financial year ending 2010 to £18.5 million in the financial year ending 2015 (the latest available figure).

As a major part of its investment in this field, the NIHR has recently awarded £19 million over 5 years from April 2017 to the NIHR biomedical research centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and University College London.

Other major NIHR investment includes:

  • £2.2 million trial of stereotactic radiotherapy for wet AMD
  • £2.2 million study of early detection of neo-vascular AMD
  • £900,000 study of the efficacy of a telescopic mirror implant for AMD

The usual practice of the NIHR is not to ring-fence funds for expenditure on particular topics: research proposals in all areas compete for the funding available. The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including AMD. These applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality. In all disease areas, the amount of NIHR funding depends on the volume and quality of scientific activity.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is one of the main agencies through which the government supports medical and clinical research. It is an independent research funding body that receives its grant-in-aid from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The MRC supports research through a range of grants and personal awards to scientists in universities, medical schools and other research institutes and welcomes investigator-initiated research proposals in all areas of research relevant to human health. Awards are made on the basis of the scientific quality of the proposals.

The MRC has awarded £5.6 million for an early phase trial of magacizumab, a humanised monoclonal antibody, in patients with neo-vascular AMD.

Published 21 November 2016