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Research

Research about AK is currently being conducted by different researches and entities. Here we try to allocate all of them. 

So please if you are a researcher or an entity that is working in developing a cure against AK – let us know so we can add you here. 

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 – How to keep your contact lenses clean (and what can go wrong if you don’t)
2020 – No water’ stickers improves CL compliance

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

More about Fiona Henriquez

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

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 –
2017 – Characterisation of sterol biosynthesis and validation of 14α-demethylase as a drug target in Acanthamoeba

2018 – Structural and functional studies of histidine biosynthesis in Acanthamoeba spp. demonstrates a novel molecular arrangement and target for antimicrobials

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

More about Chris A. Rice

Keep your eyes and contact lenses happy – no water contact
DISCLAIMER

The site is put together by ex-patients of AK, not medically trained in any way. We hope you will find this information helpful but please if in any doubt ALWAYS seek advice/treatment from an ophthalmologist / corneal specialist