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Success in RCSEd-Supported Project for Treatment of Blindness


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24 Jan 2014

Gene therapy 

RCSEd Fellow, Professor Robert MacLaren, has announced a major breakthrough in the use of gene therapy for the treatment of blindness. He and his research team improved the vision in a cohort of six patients with choroideremia using an operation to place the virus under the retina. They now believe gene therapy surgery could be used to cure other forms of genetic blindness.


The project was first supported by a grant from the RCSEd in 2008, which allowed the Oxford-based team to expand and to gain further funding through the use of preliminary data.


Thanking the RCSEd for the original grant, Professor MacLaren commented: “This grant was the only one I held when I transferred my research to take up a new chair at the University of Oxford. It enabled me to employ a post-doctoral assistant and continue this work straight away. We went on to appoint three post-doctoral assistants with four clinical PhD students.”


Chairman of RCSEd’s Awards and Grants Committee, Professor Ken Fearon said: “We are delighted to see the translational success of Professor MacLaren’s programme of research and his generous recognition of the initial grant support he received from the Royal Blind via the RCSEd. This demonstrates the importance of targeted research funding in surgery and its sub-specialties.”


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