Lion’s Eye Institute seeks world first treatment for common early childhood ailment
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Lion’s Eye Institute seeks world first treatment for common early childhood ailment

Lion’s Eye Institute seeks world first treatment for common early childhood ailment

by Freya Lucas

July 09, 2019

Conjunctivitis is a common, and highly contagious eye condition which affects up to 25 million people around the world every year. Being highly contagious, it can spread like wildfire – especially among children sharing close spaces such as early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings. 


A study at the Lions Eye Institute (LEI) is testing whether a new treatment for viral conjunctivitis can reduce the length of infection as well as common signs and symptoms like red eyes and sticky eye discharge.


Also known as “pink eye” or “flu of the eye”, viral conjunctivitis is usually caused by the adenovirus and can last up to three weeks. Unlike bacterial conjunctivitis, which responds to antibiotic eye drops, there are currently no treatments available to reduce the signs, symptoms and contagious nature of viral conjunctivitis.


Current recommendations from Staying Healthy – Preventing Infectious Diseases in Early Childhood Education and Care services recommend that children suffering from conjunctivitis should be excluded until discharge from the eyes has stopped, unless a doctor has diagnosed non-infectious conjunctivitis


The RUBY Trial is testing whether the drug OKG-0301 – an eye drop form of ranpirnase – is safe and helps people with viral conjunctivitis.


The LEI is one of several Australian trials centres hoping to recruit people within the first three days of exhibiting conjunctivitis symptoms in order to test the new treatment.


Principal investigator, Associate Professor Mei-Ling Tay-Kearney, said the drug worked by reducing the ability of adenovirus to reproduce itself.


“Acute adenoviral conjunctivitis is a highly contagious, widespread disease which frequently reoccurs and causes significant discomfort, and in some cases, permanent damage to a person’s vision,” she said.


“To limit the spread of the infection within the family and the community, patients are typically instructed to avoid work, school or day care so finding new treatments which reduce its impact both on eye health and day-to-day living is important.


“The purpose of this research is to test whether this drug can reduce the length of time patients are infectious, as well as reducing the signs of symptoms like eye redness and eye discharge.”


For more information about the RUBY Trial, or to check your eligibility, please contact the Clinical Trial Coordinator Amelia Jason on (08) 63820582 or email [email protected]


More information is also available at

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