First Embryonic Stem Cells Used In Humans Safely Treat Dry Macular Degeneration
Results for the very first human embryonic stem cell treatment were announced today in the online first section of The Lancet journal. The first aim of the study was to determine if the stem cell transplant was a safe treatment for age-related dry macular degeneration (dry AMD), the main cause of blindness in persons over 60. But, in addition...
... after four months of treatment, the researchers report that they have also seen some improvement in their patients' vision.
Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) developed the the human embryonic stem cell (hESC) treatment, drawing its cells from retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) specifically for the treatment of dry AMD and Stargardt's macular dystrophy (SMD). The RPE cells were intended to line the retina. Currently there are treatments for wet AMD, but until now, no treatment has been effective for dry AMD or SMD.
Two women, one in her fifties and the other in her seventies, who were originally classified as legally blind were given injections of 50,000 RPE cells. After four months, the RPE cells still line the retina, and vision benefits have been observed by the investigators from ACT, and UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute.
Further study on the efficacy of the hESC treatment will continue with the original two subjects and will be replicated at London's Moorfields Eye Hospital.