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Vision Improvements Reported in Early Stem Cell Trial for Wet AMD

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Two patients with advanced wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in a Phase I clinical trial demonstrated improved visual acuity sustained for one year after a sheet of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from embryonic stem cells was transplanted under their retinas. Each patient had one eye treated. Vision improvement for one patient was 29 letters or about 6 lines on an eye chart. The other had a gain of 21 letters or about 4 lines.

Known as the London Project, the human study is taking place at Moorfields Eye Hospital in the UK. The study will enroll a total of 10 patients. Results of the study were published online in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

In the retina, RPE cells provide support — namely waste management and delivery of nutrition — to photoreceptors, the retinal cells that make vision possible. The RPE cells exist as a layer in which photoreceptors are nestled. In AMD, RPE cells degenerate first. The loss of RPE eventually leads to loss of photoreceptors and vision.

Researchers believe that transplanting healthy RPE cells into an affected retina may reactivate photoreceptors that are in a dormant, nonfunctional state.

In the London Project clinical trial, the RPE cells are placed on a synthetic membrane — also known as a patch — so they can be handled easily and transplanted safely underneath the fovea as they naturally occur. The fovea is a tiny pit in the central retina that provides the sharpest vision. Researchers also developed a delivery tool to minimize damage to the patch as it is transplanted.

“While this trial is still at a very early stage, the vision improvements thus far are encouraging,” says Stephen Rose, PhD, chief scientific officer at the Foundation Fighting Blindness. “We look forward to additional reports from the investigators as more patients are treated.”

Though the clinical trial is for patients with advanced wet AMD, the researchers plan to evaluate the treatment in those with early dry AMD.

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19 Responses to 'Vision Improvements Reported in Early Stem Cell Trial for Wet AMD'

  1. Aron Miller says:

    Eyes are one of the most important organs in our body and wet AMD is not uncommon. Exciting news that something substantial is happening in this area.

  2. shirrel a watts says:

    I would like to know if this treatment is going to be available in the U.S. I have AMD, and have had Eylea injections for about 8-9 years now. I am a patient at Byer’s Eye Institute at Stanford. I realize the outcome of this dreaded disease, and am trying to find ways to slow it down. I have not, at this point been informed about any other options. Please advise.

    Sincerely,
    Shirrel A. Watts

  3. Alice Uglow says:

    When will stem cell for wet and be available

    • EyeOnTheCure says:

      Hi Alice, this was just an early clinical trials that has now concluded, but there are many other clinical trials ongoing for wet AMD. We recommend visiting http://www.clinicaltrials.gov to search for recruiting trials. Good luck!

  4. Rita Donohue says:

    Will there be any trials for dry macular degeneration done in the U.S.? My husband suffers from myopic degeneration and his eyesight is deteriorating. If there is any chance of being part of a clinical trial, that would be great.

  5. Guia Dorion says:

    Hi, is there any cure for optic neuritis?
    My mom was diagnosed with optic neuritis 8 years ago and totally lost both her eyesight

  6. Laurie says:

    Do you think this option will also help those of us with Myopic Macular Degeneration with CNV?

    • EyeOnTheCure says:

      Hi Laurie, this clinical trial is for patients with advanced wet AMD at the moment, but the researchers plan to evaluate the treatment in those with early dry AMD and see what it can hold for others in the future.

  7. juan somoza says:

    Sir, my grand son (7 years old) have ocular coloboma in Both eyes, Do you Know some genetic treatment with Stem cells for curation?.
    Thanks for your answer.

    Juan – Seville,Spain,EU.

    • EyeOnTheCure says:

      Hi Juan, unfortunately this is outside of our scope of research, focusing strictly on inherited retinal diseases. We recommend you consult your doctor for your grandson’s individual medical needs. Good luck!

  8. Chithra says:

    Sir
    I am from india.my mother 67 years old has lost her right eyesight because of macular degeneration.can something be done about it here in india?Thanks for your time.i am eagerly awaiting a positive reply

    • EyeOnTheCure says:

      Hi Chithra, We are aware of the following clinics in India, which may be helpful:
      Shankara Netralaya, Chennai
      L. V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad – They have branches in different states
      Aravind Eye Hospital, Madhurai
      All India Institute of Medical Sciences- New Delhi

      If you are interested in a clinic in a different location, contact one of these clinics and ask them for a suggested clinic in your region. We hope this helps!

  9. Barbara Hilario says:

    I would like to know about trails being ran on AMD in US. I live in Texas. I have end stage in right right. And am holding sight in left one.

  10. Melissa Hall says:

    My son was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis which caused him to lose most of his sight in both eyes at the age 7. He can’t see anything but a blur in his left eye and has limited vision in his right eye. He is now 21. He had a retinal detachment last year in his right eye and he is on the verge of having another detachment in the same eye.again. The only reason it has not been a full detachment is because of scar tissue from last year reattachment surgery. He was told that if he has another complete retinal detachment that he will most likely lose the little sight he has left. He is seeing flashes of light which is a sign of a detachment. He has an appointment with the same doctor that did his last retinal surgery again in a few days. He and I have been talking about him being a stem cell canadate. Is there somewhere he could go to volunteer for this treatment?

    • EyeOnTheCure says:

      Hi Melissa, seeing the same doctor again is a good next step, as the Foundation is unfortunately not able to provide recommendations regarding medical care or treatments for a specific patient. If you want to learn more about potential clinical trials for your son, you can visit http://www.clinicaltrials.gov

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