Dr. Maclaren’s clinical and laboratory research is dedicated to finding new treatments for blindness, particularly in patients with incurable retinal diseases, using stem cell-based approaches, gene therapy or electronic retinas. For treatment of Choroideremia, Dr. Maclaren is using a gene replacement therapy to deliver a healthy copy of the Choroideremia gene to affected cells in the retina. This technique is currently being used in the first clinical trial for a treatment for Choroideremia. The vector containing a healthy copy of the Choroideremia gene is injected into the retina during a short surgical procedure to deliver the vector directly to the affected cells of the retina. The initial results of his clinical trial were published in The Lancet early in 2014, showing safety in all patients and the potential for improvement of vision at six months after treatment. The Phase I clinical trial is schedule to complete by the end of 2014, with the goal of continuing forward to Phase II trials in 2015.
In addition to his gene therapy work on Choroideremia, Dr. Maclaren is involved in other efforts to treat blindness in patients with retinal diseases. Among his projects includes surgical implantation of an electronic retinal device called the Alpha IMS developed by Retina Implant AG. This device is currently approved for use in Europe and can restore some vision to completely blind patients.