Early Trials of Embryonic Stem Cells to Treat Degenerative Blindness

From the New York Times: "A treatment for eye diseases that is derived from human embryonic stem cells might have improved the vision of two patients. The report, published online in the medical journal The Lancet, is the first to describe the effect on patients of a therapy involving human embryonic stem cells. ... The results [come] from the second clinical trial involving the stem cells, using a therapy developed by Advanced Cell Technology to treat macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. ... Both patients, who were legally blind, said in interviews that they had gains in eyesight that were meaningful for them. One said she could see colors better and was able to thread a needle and sew on a button for the first time in years. The other said she was able to navigate a shopping mall by herself. ... esearchers at Advanced Cell Technology turned embryonic stem cells into retinal pigment epithelial cells. Deterioration of these retinal cells can lead to damage to the macula, the central part of the retina, and to loss of the straight-ahead vision necessary to recognize faces, watch television or read. Some 50,000 of the cells were implanted last July under the retinas in one eye of each woman in operations that took about 30 minutes. ... Before the treatment, the woman with Stargardt's was able to see the motion of a hand being waved in front of her but could not read any letters on an eye chart. Twelve weeks after the treatment, she was able to read five of the biggest letters on the eye chart with the treated eye, corresponding to 20/800 vision, according to the paper."

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/24/business/stem-cell-study-may-show-advance.html


Off-topic but you may be interested to see this lecture series happening at the University of Arizona. They've been promoting it like crazy, and there were probably at least 1000 people there - so maybe these ideas are getting some recognition at last! Of course they're focusing on the random number of 100 years, but it's better than nothing...

Posted by: William Nelson at January 25th, 2012 4:22 PM
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