Fight for Sight has announced funding for research into whether compounds used to treat snake venom or bee stings could be an alternative to antibiotics for eye infections.

Different treatments for the corneal infection microbial keratitis have been researched by Professor Stephen Kaye at the University of Liverpool, who has found that the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which accounts for a third of all cases of this condition, produces toxins similar to those in snake venom or bee stings.

This has led to him and his team investigating whether anti-toxin treatments can be applied to the eyes to either limit or prevent cell damage caused by microbial keratitis. Their aim is to develop the bacteria into a non-antibiotic treatment to reduce damage to the eye and to test it in a clinical trial.

Prof Kaye said: ‘We are grateful that Fight for Sight has agreed to support this project. We intend to investigate several promising anti-phospholipase agents, optimise their chemistry to increase penetration and minimise toxicity, as well as to design new agents. If successful these agents will be delivered topically to the eye in conjunction with other antimicrobials in cases of microbial keratitis.’