Simon Reeve becomes NDF first Ambassador

NDF is so happy to share the news that author and presenter, Simon Reeve, has become their first Ambassador. Simon worked on the Big Life Fix with Josh, who has Norrie disease, where he to got understand the difficulties that visually impaired children experience in everyday life. Please follow the link below for more information.


Norrie Disease Foundation announces first Ambassador

The Norrie Disease Foundation (NDF) has recruited Simon Reeve as its first Ambassador to help raise awareness of the rare disease which results in male children being born severely visually impaired.

While presenting The Big Life Fix for BBC Children in Need, Simon Reeve met Josh who has Norrie Disease and was born blind and heard first-hand how difficult Josh finds it to cope with the school playground. The ‘fix’ was an especially adapted play facility that incorporated guidance paving or ‘braille for feet’ that gave Josh the confidence to play with other children.

Norrie disease mainly affects boys and is a rare X-linked genetic condition that causes blindness or severe sight impairment at birth. A secondary symptom that can begin in early childhood is the loss of hearing, with hearing aids or implants prescribed over time. Other symptoms can include autism, cognitive impairment and delayed development.

With Simon Reeve’s support, the charity hopes to raise awareness of the challenges faced by children with Norrie disease and highlight the important role play facilities have on ensuring visually impaired children are able to socialise with their peers.

Simon Reeve, Norrie Disease Foundation Ambassador said: “Meeting Josh through The Big Life Fix drove home how difficult life is for children affected by Norrie disease. There are huge obstacles in the way of many of those everyday things we take for granted for our children. Having an organisation like the Norrie Disease Foundation to raise awareness of these challenges and to provide vital support can make all the difference to the children and families affected. I’m happy to be able to support a worthwhile charity.”

Wendy Horrobin, Chair of the NDF and mother to Josh, age 8 with Norrie disease, said: “We are delighted Simon agreed to become an Ambassador. Simon will be instrumental in helping us to promote the charity and be there to support more families affected by Norrie disease.”

Set up to support the UK community affected by Norrie disease and to secure research funding, the charity has already been successful in applying for a research grant into the Norrie hearing loss from Newlife and from Sparks, The Children’s Medical Charity.

The charity was launched with funding from Jeans for Genes Day.

To volunteer, donate or simply find out more, contact



Investigating Norrin in the Laboratory

November’s Norrie Disease Research Update at UCL GOSH

by Dale Bryant, 30th November 2017.

Norrie disease is caused by mutations in the NDP gene. The NDP gene provides the instructions for making a protein called Norrin. When there is a problem with these instructions, Norrin is not made correctly so it is unable to carry out its job. To monitor Norrin in the laboratory, we use antibodies that have been specifically made to bind to Norrin. With additional tools we are able to observe these antibodies and use this information to investigate Norrin protein.

This month, we have been testing different antibodies to see which one is best at detecting Norrin in our samples. This is because some antibodies are better than others and we want to use the best one in our experiments. Certain antibodies also require specific conditions to be effective. Therefore, we have also tried different methods to see which one provides the clearest results.

We will use the observations of these studies to monitor Norrin in future experiments. Each genetic mutation that causes Norrie disease may disrupt the instructions for making Norrin in its own way. Therefore, understanding how the Norrin protein has been disrupted by these mutations is an important part of many experiments that we do.

Celebrating ​​our journey on Findacure’s Peer Mentoring Programme

The NDF were thrilled to be offered a place on Findacure’s year-long Peer Mentoring Programme to help get us off the ground. We started the Peer Mentoring in September 2016 and have just attended the Closing event in September 2017. We thought it was time to share our journey so far with you all and no better way to do it than to celebrate our time on Findacure’s Peer Mentoring Programme.
Here’s a short a presentation of our journey since the beginning:
We are really thankful to Findaure and our mentor Dr Kamlesh Sheth for the amazing experience we have had during this year – we have learnt so much and come so far!

Dr Kamlesh Sheth

Wendy Horrobin and Dr Rick Thompson

Birmingham Norrie Family Day

Sunday 29th October saw the 3rd Norrie family meet in the city of Birmingham. Families travelled from Bristol, Essex, Kent, London, York and Leicester to meet each other. We had intended to go to the park but once we all got talking there was no stopping and the time flew by as we shared a huge table in the corner of a coffee shop.

Seven Norrie families made it to the gathering. It was a wonderful opportunity for the community which ranged in age from 19 months to 34 years to get to know each other and share their experiences of living with Norrie disease and what has and hasn’t worked for them. Ed who is new to the community gave an inspirational speech about his life and his approach to living with Norrie disease. We are happy to say that Ed is also going to join our team of mentors and you can read more about him on our upcoming peer mentoring page.

We are now already looking forward to our next Norrie family meet.

ND research begins at GOSH

We are excited to be starting a research project at Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London to understand more about Norrie disease in order to develop treatments. Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz’s research group has a long history of working on genetic hearing loss so we are particularly interested in understanding this aspect of the disease. My background is in neuroscience and I recently finished a research project investigating a different neurological disease before joining Maria’s group. I will be working alongside a PhD student with a background in biochemistry and together our goal is to investigate the pathology of Norrie disease. Our project will focus on studying developmental changes in the ear and the eye in Norrie disease, so that we understand better how we might treat the problems that arise.

This month we have been preparing the tools we need to carry out experiments. We will be examining the sensory cells and surrounding blood vessels in the ear and eye. This will provide clues on the best cells to target and what therapies may be possible. By monitoring the changes we will be better able to understand and follow the progression of the disease. Our work on this project is at an early stage so we will provide updates in future posts. There is much to be done so we look forward to reporting our activities along the way.

Dale Bryant 31st October 2017

Exciting Research News For The Norrie Community


Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz

Amina Al-Yassin












The Norrie Disease Foundation are very pleased to announce that Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz from Great Ormond Street Hospital has been successful in her application for funding for a research grant into the Norrie hearing loss from Newlife and from Sparks, The Children’s Medical Charity. Maria is a clinical geneticist based at the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and also sits on the Norrie Disease Foundation’s, Scientific Medical Advisory Board. Maria has a special interest in genetic causes of deafness in children and adults. The research is a laboratory study on hearing loss in Norrie disease and whether this can be treated. Funding from Newlife for a PhD student will start in October 2017 and last for 3 years. We will post more information on the research project in our research section as it becomes available.

On another note, the Norrie Disease Foundation are delighted to introduce  Amina Al-Yassin. Amina is a paediatric trainee working in London. Amina will be working with Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz at Great Ormond Street Hospital to try and understand more about the characteristics of Norrie disease in families. Amina hopes to talk to, and hopefully meet, as many people and families as possible so that the team at Great Ormond Street Hospital can try to build up a really good idea of the health issues experienced by people with Norrie as well as their journeys in the healthcare system.

One of the reasons for this research, is that if treatments for some of the complications of Norrie become available in the future, researchers need to know who to treat (everyone or just some people?), when to treat (before too much damage has been done) and how to tell if treatment has worked or not (the person might have fewer complications or a less severe medical problem than might be expected for a person of their age with Norrie). This is called a ‘natural history study’ which means a study of what normally happens over time in a particular medical condition and we need to have this information if we want to offer new treatments.

If you are interested in taking part or want to find out more please email Amina

The Norrie Disease Foundation Launches

Saturday 13th May saw the culmination of a year’s hard work and preparation as the Norrie Disease Foundation launched at University College London, Great Ormond Street, Institute of Child Health.

Around 70 guests gathered to celebrate the start of what promises to be an exciting journey for the Norrie Disease Foundation – a strengthening of the Norrie network and the promotion of vital new research into the condition.

The launch was opened by Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz, a clinical and molecular geneticist, with a special interest in deafness, from UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health. The Norrie community’s Ethan Peacock, aged 12, took to the stage to formally launch the foundation and shared a few words about what it means to him to have the Norrie Disease Foundation up and running. “The Norrie Disease Foundation gives me the chance to get to know others who share in this condition. I am looking forward to connecting with some of the older Norrie community and being able to ask the questions. And in turn pass on my experience to the younger members of the community”. You can listen to all of Ethan’s speech by clicking on this link and there is also a text link to his speech.

Norrie Families Meet

On Sunday 26th, February, 2017, families from the Norrie community travelled from Liverpool, Cardiff, Essex and London to meet at the Southbank in London.

This was the second time that Norrie families had got together in the UK – a fantastic opportunity for families who have something very special in common to meet.

Our Norrie boys ranged in age from 2 years to 11 years. Their siblings also came along to join in the fun. For some, it was the first time they had met other Norrie families.

A few of the older boys tackled an enormous climbing frame before everyone headed off to the Festival Hall for some lunch, after which there were games of dominoes and cards.

A really lovely day, with some sleepy bunnies at the end! We are already looking forward to our next Norrie family get together.