Research projects underway

CHECT funded retinoblastoma research

These projects are currently being funded by CHECT. For past research please have a look at our previous retinoblastoma research page.

Prognostic stratification and early detection of relapsed retinoblastoma using aqueous
humor based cfDNA screening

Project leader Professor Yellapantula
Award £50,000
Duration one years, July 2024


Cancers shed DNA fragments, called cell-free DNA (cfDNA), into bodily fluids which facilitates detection of genomic alterations driving tumor growth. Using aqueous humor (AH), a watery fluid that fills the eye, collected during treatment, we will evaluate:

1) if serial monitoring of cfDNA can inform intraocular relapse of Rb earlier than clinical findings based screening methods currently used.

2) if cfDNA prevalance at the end of treatment can inform prognosis of Rb.

3) the genomic and clinical features that differentiate low and high-risk of relapse.

Status: Begins July 2024

A retinal organoid platform for retinoblastoma drug development

Project leader Professor Seigel
Award £50,000
Duration two years, July 2023


One challenge in developing new treatments for retinoblastoma is to preserve vision by ensuring that Rb tumour cells are killed without damaging surrounding normal retina. For this project, we have a new approach for testing promising retinoblastoma drugs. We can coax adult human stem cells to represent normal retinal tissue in a plastic dish (a “retina-in-a-dish”). If we add human Rb tumour cells to this same dish, we can disrupt the retina, like an Rb tumour might do in the human eye. This mixture of RB tumour cells with the retina-in-a-dish lets us use human cells to see whether our new drug treatments will kill Rb cells specifically without harming nearby retinal cells. This new method will be very useful for testing Rb treatments that we have developed with previous support from CHECT.

Status: Begins July 2023

Evaluation of PRELP function using retinoblastoma samples

Project leader Professor Ohnuma
Award £50,000
Duration two years, April 2022


Previous research by Professor Ohnuma has found that whilst PRELP protein is highly expressed in normal retinal tissues, it is not expressed in retinoblastoma. Preliminary data from cell cultures indicate that administration of PRELP to the established laboratory retinoblastoma cell lines inhibited cancer progression. Now, this team wants to confirm that these results have clinical application, by applying PRELP protein to the human retinoblastoma tissues and examining the effect on retinoblastoma development. The advantage of such an approach over some current methods is that only affected cells will be impacted by the treatment, with no expected toxicity to surrounding normal, unaffected retinal cells, thereby preserving more of the child’s vision.

Status: In progress

Developing an evidence-based psycho-educational intervention for teenagers and young adults who have had retinoblastoma

Project leader Dr Bob Phillips
Award £73,799
Duration three years, September 2021


There is little guiding evidence about the specific challenges that teenagers who have had retinoblastoma face as they transition towards young adulthood. Understanding the psycho-educational needs of teenagers and young adults as they transition into adulthood is therefore essential if we are to offer effective interventions to support them. This PhD studentship aims to develop an evidence-based intervention for teenagers and young adults with retinoblastoma that offers relevant, accessible and effective psycho-educational support.

Status: In progress

Eloise Patterson Project

Project leader Dr Zerrin Onadim
Award Phase I £24,800; Phase II 24,978.39
Duration Phase I one year, Nov 2015; Phase II one year December 2020


Records held at the Royal London Hospital will be studied alongside those from the Childhood Cancer Research Group to investigate the way in which risk of tumours occurring in later life depends on different genetic mutations associated with heritable Rb, on the treatment (radiotherapy, chemotherapy) used in treating Rb, and to calculate statistical estimates of these risks.

It is hoped this will lead to clinicians and geneticists having better information available to them when assessing the risks of second tumours occurring. This could potentially lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of these second cancers.

Status: Phase II commencing December 2020