Clear vi­sion to beat eye dis­ease

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Western Opinion - By EMILY BAKER

PRO­FES­SOR David MacKey’s ul­ti­mate vi­sion is to pre­vent peo­ple with in­her­ited retinal dis­ease from go­ing blind.

The Su­bi­aco-based pro­fes­sor was re­cently awarded the Kevin Bell Churchill Fel­low­ship, val­ued at $25,000, to help make his vi­sion a re­al­ity.

Pro­fes­sor MacKey said the fel­low­ship would al­low him to get in­volved with the first gene ther­apy tri­als in the UK that could sig­nif­i­cantly slow the de­gen­er­a­tion of the retina in spe­cific in­her­ited retinal dis­ease.

“What I am try­ing to work out is how Aus­tralian peo­ple with these quite rare disor­ders can par­tic­i­pate in the stud­ies in the UK,” Pro­fes­sor MacKey said

Over the past 20 years, Pro­fes­sor MacKey said med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als had been col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion about all the fam­i­lies with in­her­ited eye dis­eases through­out Aus­tralia.

He said the large-scale re­search project could in­volve fly­ing these pa­tients over for treat­ment in the UK and then mon­i­tor­ing them back in Aus­tralia.

“It may be that for some we can do ev­ery­thing here for them in Aus­tralia, but it’s likely we’ll need to set up a sys­tem where peo­ple go to the UK for the ini­tial treat­ment,” Pro­fes­sor MacKey said.

“Then we do the fol­low-up here in Aus­tralia ac­cord­ing to the very strict re­search pro­to­cols they will set up in the UK.”

Pro­fes­sor MacKey said he hoped to be­gin the re­search in July 2016.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d439808

Pro­fes­sor David MacKey is hop­ing a UK gene ther­apy trial can help Aus­tralians with in­her­ited retinal dis­ease.

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