Fight for Sight has announced funding for vital research that could help save the sight of children with retinoblastoma.

The funding will help researchers at Newcastle University, who will be using the latest pioneering stem cell techniques to develop a ‘model’ for the disease that could result in improved treatments.

The new model will use stem cells taken from blood samples of patients with retinoblastoma to enable researchers to gain more information about which retinal cells are affected.

Researchers believe their findings will help to better predict those patients whose sight could be saved as well as increasing the success of eye injections during chemotherapy so that the therapy reaches every affected cell.

“We hope that our research will provide a model in the lab that can be used to understand the genetic events that lead to retinoblastoma tumours as well as to test drugs that go on to clinical trials,” said Professor Majlinda Lako from Newcastle University.

Fight for Sight said it currently invests £14 million in eye research projects, of which £4 million is invested in over 50 projects investigating rarer conditions including retinoblastoma.

Retinoblastoma is a rare type of eye cancer which is most common in children under five. The cancer is successfully treated in over 95% of cases but nearly 40% of those with the condition lose one eye.