Group Leader: Professor Mark Gillies
The Macular Research Group (formerly known as the Retinal Therapeutics Research Unit) aims to develop new treatments that will reduce the prevalence of blindness from macular disease, through multidisciplinary, patient oriented, world class research. The group is made up of two cohesive research units and an innovative outcomes-based Fight Retinal Blindness! (FRB!) registry.
The Clinical Research Unit of the Macular Research Group is an internationally certified clinical trial unit that conducts randomised clinical trials in macular and retinal diseases. Research clinics are held in the Out Patients Department of the Sydney Eye Hospital.
We currently have over a dozen clinical trials in progress. Treatment is provided free of charge in two research clinics headed by Professor Mark Gillies and Associate Professor Samantha Fraser-Bell. Patients are offered the option of emerging treatments under clinical trial protocol which may not be available for a number of years in Australia or the public health system. In recent years our unit has been involved in clinical trials for the drugs Lucentis and Eylea which are now the world wide gold standard treatments for Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Clinical Trial Patients had access to this treatment years before it became available in Australia.
Our unit was also involved in clinical trials of an injectable slow release dexamethasone implant used in the treatment of Macular Oedema related to Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO). This drug is now marketed as Ozurdex and is approved for use in the USA and Europe. We continue to use this drug in ongoing clinical trials for Diabetic Macular Oedema.
Most trials provide reimbursement towards the cost of patient travel to appointments.
Our clinical trials are conducted under the strict guidelines of the ICH GCP (International Conference on the Harmonisation of Good Clinical Practice) and our staff are externally certified in retinal imaging with multiple international central reading centres.
Retinal vascular diseases caused by abnormal leakage of fluid through small blood vessel walls (capillaries) are among the commonest causes of blindness – especially in diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, ocular inflammation, the wet form of AMD and type 2 of perimacular telangiectasis. The Retinal Therapeutics Laboratory Research Unit studies the biomolecular determinants of leakiness in retinal capillaries using laboratory and animal models. The group also conducts preclinical studies into pharmacological and other therapies for the treatment of retinal vascular diseases.
The Fight Retinal Blindness! project (FRB!) investigates and evaluates the clinical effectiveness, cost effectiveness and safety of emerging therapies for the treatment of macular degeneration. The project aims to develop strategies to reduce the incidence of retinal blindness in the community.
FRB! is a collaboration between the Save Sight Institute in Sydney, the Centre for Eye Research Australia in Melbourne and the Lions Eye Institute in Perth.
to Save Sight Institute’s mailing list for news and updates