Prof. Breandán Kennedy

In 2021, Professor Kennedy was awarded a grant to continue research on zebrafish models of Inherited Retinal Disease (IRD). This work had previously been funded in part by Fighting Blindness.

The award allowed for this important research to continue while Professor Kennedy sought further, more substantial funding for the research.

In addition, early-stage researchers in the lab group worked on this award allowing them to increase their skills and experience in the zebrafish models.

Project: ‘Towards identification of personalised treatments for inherited retinal degenerations by creating patient-specific research models’

Start date: 2021

Award Amount: €50,000

Brendan Kennedy is a Professor in the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science at the University College of Dublin (UCD).

This project is now completed and below is the list of publications that have come from it:

  • Moran AL, Fehilly JD, Blacque O, Kennedy BN. Gene therapy for RAB28: What can we learn from zebrafish? Vision Res. 2023 Jun 13;210:108270. Click here to find the full information about this study.
  • Moran AL, Fehilly JD, Floss Jones D, Collery R, Kennedy BN. Regulation of the rhythmic diversity of daily photoreceptor outer segment phagocytosis in vivo. FASEB J. 2022 Oct;36(10):e22556. Click here to find the full information about this study.
  • A blog was also written for ARVO (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology) about ‘The Importance of Patient and Public Involvement in Research’. Click here to find the full blog.

 

Lab group photo. From the left to the right- standing: John Fehilly, PhD student, Ciara Walsh, SFI MSc student (Inherited Retinal Degeneration), Elin Strachan, PhD student, Professor Breandán Kennedy, and Dr. Valentina Tonelotto, IRC Postdoctoral Fellow (Uveal Melanoma). From the left to the right – front row: Dr. Ailis Moran and Marzia Pendino, IRC PhD Student (Uveal Melanoma).
From the left to the right- standing: John Fehilly, PhD student, Ciara Walsh, SFI MSc student (Inherited Retinal Degeneration), Elin Strachan, PhD student, Professor Breandán Kennedy, and Dr. Valentina Tonelotto, IRC Postdoctoral Fellow (Uveal Melanoma). From the left to the right – front row: Dr. Ailis Moran and Marzia Pendino, IRC PhD Student (Uveal Melanoma).

 

Information on two completed Fighting Blindness-funded projects in this area, led by Professor Kennedy can be found here and here.

 

We spoke to Professor Breandán Kennedy about his current project. Find out more about the project and Professor Kennedy below.

1. What are the overall aims of the project you are working on, including how it could have an impact on those affected by sight loss?

2. Please describe the results from the project and next steps

3. More about Breandan Kennedy’s work and bio

 

1. What are the overall aims of the project you are working on, including how it could have an impact on those affected by sight loss?

 

This bridge funding of €50K enables us to sustain our research on zebrafish models of IRD. For many IRD genes, it is unclear why gene changes cause impaired vision, which gene variants are pathogenic or benign and which treatment interventions are most appropriate for each patient. In this project, we characterised zebrafish models in which one of 3 IRD genes was rendered completely inactive. This helped us understand effects on vision and on retinal histology. We also generated transgenic lines of zebrafish expressing the human IRD with and without patient variants of known or unknown pathogenic significance.

  • This platform will help diagnose which patients variants of unknown significance (VUS), identified from DNA sequencing, are pathogenic.
  • This will inform patients about the genetic cause of their impaired vision and increase accessibility to clinical trials for specific IRD genes.

 

2. Please describe the results from the project and next steps

 

The effects on vision, of loss-of-function changes in zebrafish equivalents of human IRD genes (e.g. RAB28 and RLBP1) has been determined. This helps us better understand the clinical presentations. Better understanding of the mechanisms leading to impaired vision has been garnered, leading to therapeutic targets that can be pursued. We have successfully create zebrafish lines, humanised to express human IRD genes.

These models are being characterised to assess vision, retinal histology and retinal biochemistry to enable diagnosis of patients IRD gene variants that are pathogenic. All of these models can be incorporated into screen to test the efficacy of candidate therapeutics. We hope to expand this platform to other IRD genes.

 

The lab group attending the ARVO conference 2023. Photo of some of the group members sitting on a bench -from the left to the right: Professor Breandán Kennedy, John Fehilly, PhD student, Marzia Pendino, IRC PhD Student (Uveal Melanoma), Elin Strachan, PhD student, and Dr. Valentina Tonelotto, IRC Postdoctoral Fellow (Uveal Melanoma).
The lab group attending the ARVO conference 2023 – from the left to the right: Professor Breandán Kennedy, John Fehilly, PhD student, Marzia Pendino, IRC PhD Student (Uveal Melanoma), Elin Strachan, PhD student, and Dr. Valentina Tonelotto, IRC Postdoctoral Fellow (Uveal Melanoma).

 

3. More about Breandan Kennedy’s work and bio

  • UCD profile here
  • Breandan’s twitter profile here

 

Without funding, there is no research. To donate please click here.