Photo of Dr Victoria Kearns

Dr Victoria Kearns BEng(Hons), PhD, CSci, MIPEM, MIMMM

Senior Lecturer in Ocular Biomaterials Eye & Vision Sciences

Research

Research Overview

"My research interests concentrate on the design and modification of biomaterials and the biological response to them in various clinically-related applications. I am currently developing injectable ocular drug delivery systems and technology to transplant cells under the retina.


Specialties: biomaterials, cell-material interactions, materials characterisation, ophthalmic biomaterials, "

Ocular drug delivery

This computer model of the eye is part of our work to help predict how new treatments might work
This computer model of the eye is part of our work to help predict how new treatments might work

I am interested in developing novel, biomaterial-based ocular drug delivery systems and models (in vitro and in silico) to test them. This work involved biomaterials, chemistry, engineering, imaging and computer modelling, supported by input from clinical and industrial collaborators.

Clinical Need:
Repeated intravitreal injections of therapeutic drugs into the vitreous of the eye is currently one of the best clinical approaches to attaining sustained exposure of drugs in the posterior segment for the treatment of conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and proliferative vitreoretinopathy. Implantable drug delivery systems could offer an alternative to injections, using biomaterials tailored to deliver therapeutic levels of drugs in a controlled manner over extended periods of time. This would reduce the time, cost to patients and the NHS and the risk of complications.

Cell therapies for posterior segment eye disease

Tropical Eye-lands, by Victoria Kearns and Riaz Akhtar. This picture looks like you're flying over a tropical landscape, but it's actually a high magnification image of a material that could be used to transplant cells into the eye. A cell transplant is a potential treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that causes loss of central vision. We want to find a material that can replace diseased tissue in the eye. One of the important features of this material would be it having the right nano-architecture - this will help the transplanted cells function correctly. The image was taken using an atomic force microscope, which allows us to study the nano-architecture of the material. The colours show areas with different heights.
Tropical Eye-lands, by Victoria Kearns and Riaz Akhtar. This picture looks like you're flying over a tropical landscape, but it's actually a high magnification image of a material that could be used to transplant cells into the eye. A cell transplant is a potential treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that causes loss of central vision. We want to find a material that can replace diseased tissue in the eye. One of the important features of this material would be it having the right nano-architecture - this will help the transplanted cells function correctly. The image was taken using an atomic force microscope, which allows us to study the nano-architecture of the material. The colours show areas with different heights.

I have expertise in the modification and characterisation of biomaterial substrates. Of particular interest is the optimisation of surfaces to be used to grow cells for engineering tissue. This involves using a range of techniques. I also have expertise in the isolation and expansion of primary ocular cells.

Research Grants

Sustained, injectable ocular drug delivery systems

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

October 2018 - September 2022

An Injectable Implant Providing Long-Acting Drug Delivery for the Treatment of Chronic disease

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

April 2019 - April 2022

IPE stem cells for the treatment of retinal diseases

JAMES KENT TRUST (UK)

October 2017 - March 2022

Study of response to substrates for subretinal transplant

JAMES KENT TRUST (UK)

October 2015 - December 2021

Surgical Retina Research – David Steel

FOUNDATION FOR THE PREVENTION OF BLINDNESS (UK)

August 2019 - July 2022

Clinical PhD in Translational Eye and Vision Research Post 1

ROYAL LIVERPOOL AND BROADGREEN UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST (UK), ROYAL LIVERPOOL AND BROADGREEN UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST CHARITABLE FUNDS (UK)

August 2017 - December 2021

Ocular surface neoplasia

FIGHT FOR SIGHT (UK)

September 2016 - November 2017

Drug-releasing oils for the treatment of retinal diseases

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

April 2016 - March 2017

EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship 2016

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

July 2016 - March 2017

Development of silicone oil tamponades for drug delivery

ENGINEERING & PHYSICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL (EPSRC)

October 2013 - July 2015

Advanced materials for tissue engineered solutions for vision loss

THE BRIAN MERCER CHARITABLE TRUST (UK), THE ULVERSCROFT FOUNDATION (UK)

October 2013 - September 2015

Research Collaborations

Dr Joseph Chan

External: University of Hong Kong

Biomaterials for ophthalmology

Dr Anderson Shum

External: University of Hong Kong

Models for assessment of silicone oil emulsification

Dr Serban Pop

External: University of Chester

Computation modelling

Dr Krasimir Vasilev

External: Mawson Institute, University of South Australia

Plasma polymer coatings for biomaterial substrates

Dr Boris Stanzel

External: University of Bonn

In vivo studies for RPE transplant project

Prof Steve Rannard

Internal

Ocular drug delivery

Prof David Wong

External: St Paul's Eye Unit

Vitreoretinal research and translation

Prof Robert Poole

Internal

Rheological evaluation of tamponade agents

Dr Caroline Smith

Internal

Study of extracellular matrix

Miss Rumana Hussain

External: St Paul's Eye Unit

Vitreoretinal research and translation

Dr Tom McDonald

Internal

Ocular drug delivery

Prof Ian Pearce

External: St Paul's Eye Unit

Vitreoretinal research and translation