BRADFORD researchers are looking for volunteers to help test a ground-breaking new drug that could help prevent blindness.

If successful, the drug could give hope to more than five million people worldwide living with an age-related eye condition for which there is no cure.

Faruque Ghanchi, consultant surgeon of ophthalmology and main researcher for the study at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, hopes that patients diagnosed with the most common form of age-related macular degeneration which gradually blurs vision, will get in touch to find out more about taking part in the study.

Macular Degeneration usually affects people in their 70s causing a gradual loss of central vision.

There are two types, dry and wet. The dry type comes first and progresses into the more serious wet type which sees fluid and blood leaking out from behind the retina but it can be treated with injections.

Mr Ghanchi said: "The people we want to hear from are out in the community are those with the dry type who are seeing their optician, getting new glasses as their eyesight gets worse.

"Opticians are aware of the condition we are researching, most people will get a diagnosis but because there's no cure yet so they won't come to hospital or be known to us. That's why we have to get this news out to put people and get people to come to us."

He added: "This is a brand new treatment, the first in the world. We need to recruit six people to start with, then maybe more. We are hoping this new drug will slow down the progression of the dry type.

"Earlier studies and research have already shown a good result and that's why we are are now doing clinical research on it. This research is happening in 24 other countries cross the world but we are the only research centre doing it in West Yorkshire."

In the trial, patients will be split into three groups. The first will have injections of new drug Lampilizumab every month, the second will have injections every six weeks and the third group will have placebo injections. This will go on for two years while their eyes and vision are closely monitored.

Anyone volunteering for the trials will have to be screened first for suitability but there is a possibility that those who do not meet the criteria could still be invited to join a second linked study being led by Bradford.

"If they don't qualify for the new drug trials we could use them for another study in which we will purely be observing their condition overtime and potentially we could offer them treatment if they needed it. We hope to get the go ahead for that one in a couple of weeks," said Mr Ghanchi.

Anyone interested in taking part in the clinical research should have dry macular degeneration in both eyes. To find out more, contact Sister Nicola Hawes at the Bradford Institute of Health research on 01274 383927 or 01274 383750 or email