Another Stem-Cell Therapy for Blindness

Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, MA will seek approval for human trials of its treatment for vision loss.
While scientists have made huge advances using stem cells to treat diseases in animal models, testing these experimental therapies in humans poses some unique challenges. One is proving that the cells are safe: embryonic stem cells, which can develop into any tissue type in the body, carry the risk of forming tumors. Another challenge is the threat of immune rejection of the transplanted cells; in most cases, introducing foreign cells would require a patient to take powerful drugs for life to suppress the immune system, as is the case with organ transplants. For that reason, the first stem-cell therapies have focused on the eye and nervous system, so-called immune-privileged sites that do not experience this response to foreign cells.
Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) uses human embryonic stem cells to re-create a type of cell in the retina that supports the photoreceptors needed for vision. These cells, called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), are often the first to die off in age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases, which in turn leads to loss of vision. Several years ago, scientists found that human embryonic stem cells could be a source of RPE cells, and subsequent studies found that these cells could restore vision in mouse models of macular degeneration.
The transplants were also able to improve vision in a mouse model of Stargardt’s disease, a rare but untreatable illness that causes blindness early in life.

http://beta.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/22871/

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One Response to Another Stem-Cell Therapy for Blindness

  1. Nelson says:

    Nelson has macular degeneration.He took the shots in his eye and he got where he could see, then he had astroke let him with a small fraction that he see’s out of. The DR. calls it a small window. He has a catract on the other eye. I think his eye sight is like 50/300.

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