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Almac Discovery and the McClay Foundation are to fund a two year research collaboration with Ulster University to investigate if a specific type of protein could help to treat diseases of the eye.

A form of the protein, which can reduce the growth or formation of blood vessels, is currently in clinical development by Almac Discovery as a cancer treatment.

Using state-of-the-art technologies, including gene editing, Ulster University's Professor Tara Moore and her team of researchers will closely examine the effects of the protein, known as FKBP-L, after it is administered to the eye.

The objective will be to observe the protein and develop an understanding of precisely how and why it works so that methods of treatment delivery can be created or refined.

Professor Moore explains: "This particular form of the protein known as a peptide has anti-angiogenic properties meaning that it prevents the growth or formation of blood vessels.

"Blood vessel formation is a known factor in tumour growth, as well as being a key factor in blinding eye conditions including wet age related macular degeneration, and the cause of distorted vision and blind spots.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Almac Discovery and the McClay Foundation to conduct research into this protein and its potential as a treatment for blinding eye diseases."

Stephen Barr, President, Almac Discovery added: "It is great to have such excellence on our doorsteps in Northern Ireland and we therefore look forward to a productive and informative collaboration with Professor Moore and Ulster University."