World's largest eye bank launches research institute

May 13, 2009

The world's largest eye bank, The Tampa Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research, Inc. in Florida, which has supplied over 30,000 corneas for transplant and 50,000 eyes for research worldwide over the past 30 years, is to open a state-of-the-art research facility.

The world's largest eye bank, The Tampa Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research, Inc. in Florida, which has supplied over 30,000 corneas for transplant and 50,000 eyes for research worldwide over the past 30 years, is to open a state-of-the-art research facility.

"The LEITR expansion means that, for the first time, diseased as well as healthy human eye tissue will be available to us for research," says Dr Henry Edelhauser, Ferst Professor at Emory University Eye Center. "This availability of a full spectrum of human eye tissue will improve our understanding of the underlying events that lead to blindness. Even more importantly, what we learn will eventually have a tremendous, positive impact on quality of life for patients with blinding diseases."

Key to the successful advancement of ocular tissue research is having the highest quality human tissue available. Over the years, LEITR recognized that time between tissue donor death and tissue recovery was essential. Current methods of providing tissue, particularly overnight shipping to facilities, has greatly affected the quality of that tissue. Now, researchers will have a repository of high-quality human ocular tissue on site at LEITR.

LEITR is also forming a distinguished advisory board, consisting of opinion leaders from top academic eye institutions around the country. Collaborative relationships with academic, government, and pharmaceutical industry research centres will be established to facilitate accelerated drug innovation, timely clinical trials and a foundation for best research practices.