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Contributors with knowledge in AK & CL

Acanthamoeba Keratitis also known as AK, is a rare disease. Having said that, numbers are raising and is very important that the professionals in the field that are experienced with it do share their knowledge to help others. 

Sadly not many professionals know or have experience with this rare disease named Acanthamoeba Keratitis, having said so, is our aim to allocate all stakeholders  – patients making a difference, contact lenses users, ophthalmologist, optometrist, opticians, cornea specialist, contact lenses prescriber, researchers, parasitologist, pharmaceutical companies and/or contact lenses manufacturers – that are actively involved in the journey of Acanthamoeba Keratitis and want to educate, prevent, diagnose as well as treat this rare disease. 

If you are one them, feel welcome to contact us, so  we can add you here and unify knowledge

Mr Andrew D Price FBDO(Hons)CL MBCLA, CEO of The ADP Consultancy and ADP-EyeCare originally set-up in 1994. A clinician, seeing patients in Contact Lens & Ocular Surface clinics, Principal Investigator in clinical trials, industry/Professional Services Consultant,  educator, lecturer and author.

Holding Honours Fellowship of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) in Contact Lens Practice. He received Certification in Ophthalmic Assisting during work in ophthalmology practice in the USA. Experience encompasses managing/owning his own contact lens practice, working in practice in Laser Vision and Ophthalmology clinics in the UK and USA. Having had many articles published and presented over three hundred lectures and workshops on the subjects of contact lenses and dry eye disease. Working with others, his consultancy has a website devoted to the ocular surface with separate Professional and Patient Sections Eye Drops Database (EDDB) His clinical practice website can be found at ADP-EyeCare.

He is a past ABDO National Clinical Committee and Optometry Wales Board member, and is still involved in numerous projects. Guest lecturer for the ABDO and Anglia Ruskin University. Also Professional Affairs Consultant for a number of contact lens and ocular surface companies. Member of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA).

More about Andrew D Price

Dr Muhammad Hamza is Senior Fellow in Cornea at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation also serving as Surgical Skills Faculty as Royal College of Ophthalmologist London. In addition he has served Locum consultant for Cornea and glaucoma at King’s College Hospital, London. He completed FRCS Edinburgh and FRCS Glasgow after finishing his medical and ophthalmological training at Pakistan. Dr Hamza has been actively involved in surgical and medical teaching and has an honour of becoming 1st surgeon to perform DMEK (Endothelial Keratoplasty ) at University Hospital Southampton. He has been managing Complex Corneal patients, and regularly performs surgeries including, but not limited to, complex cataracts, corneal grafts, and anterior segment reconstruction. He provides regular training and supervision to junior trainees within clinic and theatre, as well as to specialist nurses and orthoptists in clinic. Furthermore to his credit he is also DMEK surgery trainer at UK. Dr Hamza has given lectures on various topics both internationally and locally in addition he has attended an array of national and international congresses and meetings.

Dr Hamza also has special interest in Acanthamoeba Keratitis and Contact lens related Infections .

Nicole Carnt is an Optometrist, Scientia Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the University of NSW, Australia. From 2012-2015 she led a large research program investigating Acanthamoeba Keratitis (AK) at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. With Patient Advocate Irenie Ekkeshis, Nicole has delivered AK Support Group Meetings in London since 2013. The first of these kickstarted a project to design a collaborative Patient Leaflet, authored by Irenie. Currently, Nicole’s research in AK is investigating the genetics of the acanthamoeba organisms and patient’s immune pathways, domestic water colonisation with acanthamoeba and the effect of “No water” labelling on contact lens wearer water exposure behaviours.

Dr. Nicole Carnt. She is working to identify the genetic and environmental risk factors for the disease. Her work is ongoing, and Nicole and the team are looking to find out which factors cause the development of AK in contact lens wearers, and why some have a more severe infection than others. The study is looking to analyse both genetic and environmental factors. Participants in the study have provided the researchers with saliva and tear samples, as well as completing questionnaires on their environmental and lifestyle factors, as well as the impact of AK on patients’ quality of life.

Professor John Dart discussed other areas of research that could possibly help patients better understand AK and why it is such a difficult disease to diagnose and formulate a treatment plan. At the most recent patient support group meeting, he mentioned specific areas that would benefit from continuing research.

  • It is currently difficult to distinguish live or dead acanthamoeba cysts in confocal microscopy, causing problems for doctors in identification and diagnosis
  • There is no known reason as to why some treatments work in the laboratory, but have little to no effect on the eye
  • There is little information on how acanthamoeba invades the cornea and how it interacts with the cornea once infected.

With continuing research and increased awareness of AK, there is hope that these questions will be answered.

The  research
2020- Why contact lenses and water don’t mix
2020 – How to keep your contact lenses clean (and what can go wrong if you don’t)
2020 – No water’ stickers improves CL compliance
2015 – Strategies for the prevention of contact lens‐related Acanthamoeba keratitis: a review

More about Nicole Carnt

Fiona Henriquez-Mui Professor at University of The West of Scotland. As an Academic, my interests focus on the improvement of communication, collaboration and creativity in the University Environment and between Academia, Industry and Society. My area of expertise is Parasitology and host-pathogen interactions, in particular molecular and biochemical parasitology of protists, including Acanthamoeba species, Toxoplasma gondii, Leishmania and Cryptosporidium and host immune responses. In addition, I am investigating microbial interactions with the environment. My work in this area has led to 31 peer-reviewed publications, funding from both industry and charity funding bodies and world-wide collaborations with other academics, NHS and industry (UK, USA, Spain, Brazil and Italy). I have also been involved in science communication events as STEM ambassador and event organiser for the British Science Festival. This event, concerning ‘microbes in contact lenses’ led to a variety of media articles worldwide. I belong to the Infection and Microbiology research group in IBEHR. This group aims to expand the body of knowledge in this field by investigative research from microbial ecology and biodiversity to host-pathogen interactions and control of infectious disease, from environmental transmission to anti-microbial development.

Current research activities
My current work involves: a) Understanding Acanthamoeba keratitis: In this project involves a interdisciplinary collaboration between academics (UWS, Strathclyde), clinicians (Gartnavel) and diagnosticians (Glasgow Royal Infirmary)

The  research –
2020 – Alkyl-carbon chain length of two distinct compounds and derivatives are key determinants of their anti-Acanthamoeba activities
2015 – Strategies for the prevention of contact lens‐related Acanthamoeba keratitis: a review

More about Fiona Henriquez

Christopher A. Rice Assistant Research Scientist, Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences (PBS), The University of Georgia. Manager of the Center for Drug discovery (CDD).

Dr. Rice received his doctorate from the University of the West of Scotland in 2014, mentored by Dr. Fiona L. Henriquez. Following his graduate degree, he became a Postdoctoral Fellow for Dr. Dennis E. Kyle at the University of South Florida and led Dr. Kyle’s amoeba drug discovery project. In this role, he developed high throughput screening methodology for the discovery of novel therapeutics for the brain eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri. Furthermore, throughout his Postdoc he developed similar phenotypic high throughput screening methodology for two other diverse pathogenic free-living amoeba, Acanthamoeba species and Balamuthia mandrillaris. He transitioned to the University of Georgia with Dr. Kyle in 2017 where he has been lead optimizing many of the hits the amoeba team discovered throughout their discovery phase via secondary assays for the prioritization of these inhibitors. This has been fundamental in the discovery and development of posaconazole as a combination partner drug for the treatment of Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis caused by N. fowleri.

The  research –

2020 – Discovery of Anti-Amoebic Inhibitors from Screening the MMV Pandemic Response Box on Balamuthia mandrillaris, Naegleria fowleri, and Acanthamoeba castellanii
2020 – Discovery of repurposing drug candidates for the treatment of diseases caused by pathogenic free-living amoebae
2018 – Structural and functional studies of histidine biosynthesis in Acanthamoeba spp. demonstrates a novel molecular arrangement and target for antimicrobials
2017 – Characterisation of sterol biosynthesis and validation of 14α-demethylase as a drug target in Acanthamoeba

More about Chris A. Rice

Peter W J Morrison Research Scientist developing drug delivery systems for treating ocular disorders. Skilled R&D Scientist, expertise in supporting students in research methods within the field of Pharmaceutical Sciences, particular expertise in Ocular Drug Delivery. I provide high-level analysis and research to produce scientific results in multi-disciplinary environments. Experience in – teaching, research analysis, lab supervision, leading practical sessions, drug delivery treatments, coaching & mentoring, R&D, project management, lab management, MSDS, COSHH, process development.

The  research –
2020 – Controlled in vitro delivery of voriconazole and diclofenac to the cornea using contact lenses for the treatment of Acanthamoeba keratitis
2020 – In Vitro Topical Delivery of Chlorhexidine to the Cornea: Enhancement Using Drug-Loaded Contact Lenses and β-Cyclodextrin Complexation, and the Importance of Simulating Tear Irrigation

More about Peter W J Morrison

Claire Wilkinson is a mum of two beautiful children from Australia. She was correctly diagnosed with AK early February 2008. AK for herself has been an extremely uphill battle that has left her with with an aftermath of issues. She had a relapse at 9 months, had a corneal transplant in October 2009 that sadly was unsuccessful and I have never gained sight, and sever nerve damage which the neurologist diagnosed her with Trigeminal neuralgia. She is left with pain but she refuses to give up the fight. So her aim in life is to support those fighting AK, offer support to family member’s so they can understand AK, and fight for better awareness both in the community and within the Medical field.

She is the founded and one of the administrator of the Acanthamoeba Keratitis Support Group in Facebook. 

Liz Crane is from England. She contracted AK in June 2012 (approx). Had a corneal transplant in September 2013. Was blind for another year and had cataract removed 2014. In 2015 had a new lense put in the non AK eye and cataract removed. It is now 2019 and she still have a few stitches in place, others have come loose and been removed over time, since transplant she have had a slight infection and also has blepharitis, but other than that she is blessed with good sight (wearing prescription spectacles for reading). If she can prevent people from contracting AK , then her mission is accomplished, plus she tries to support people who have AK to help them through the terrible journey and let them know they are not alone via the Acanthamoeba Keratitis Support Group in Facebook.

Almost ten years ago, Irenie’s life changed in a single weekend after she put in her contact lenses as normal one Saturday, and within three days she was in terrible pain and couldn’t see out of her right eye. Since then she’s had intensive treatment for Acanthamoeba Keratitis, the contact lens-related infection that she caught as a result. She is now blind in one eye. Whilst having treatment, she started a campaign to raise awareness of the biggest risk factor for the disease; water exposure whilst wearing contact lenses. Through her efforts, Irenie has persuaded industry bodies to include ‘no water’ warnings on contact lens packaging in the UK, US and Australia; changed the language and information provided with lenses by optometrists and contact lens practitioners; set up a thriving support group for fellow patients and carers; and co-authored journal articles and scientific papers on the risk factors for the disease. Her efforts have led to a number of awards; in 2015 she was awarded SMK Health and Social Care Campaigner of the Year for this work, and in 2016 she won Campaign of the Year at the RNIB Vision Pioneer Awards. She has also been recognised as one of 50 HSJ Patient Leaders making impact in the NHS.

Irenie is passionate about offering people opportunities to participate in the design, development and delivery of health services having first hand experience of the unique impact patients can have. She now runs a consultancy called New Citizenship Project working with organisations to create opportunities for people to participate. She lives in London with her husband and young son.