Stem Cells May Help the Blind See

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 25, 2012

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Scientists have succeeded in using embryonic stem cells in improving the sight of two nearly blind women in a breakthrough which has raised the hopes of a cure for vision loss related to age. In the study carried out on an elderly patient along suffering from age-related macular degeneration, and a younger patient ailing with Stargardts disease, initial success has been reported.

Stargardts disease is the leading cause of macular degeneration in young people. The success in improving the condition of this disease shows that there is a possibility of macular degeneration treatment in any stage. The transplants in patients were safe even after 4 months with improvement in vision. It is expected in future that such a treatment would be undertaken earlier in the process of disease, so that the prospects of improving vision in patients is improved.

Encouraging results in the use of embryonic stem cells

Study co-author Dr Robert Lanza working for Advanced Cell Technology in Marlborough, USA that the transplant has been carried out safely and looks encouraging. The research is of particular importance because as yet, there is no treatment available for Stargardts disease or the dry macular degeneration or dry AMD. The encouraging fact about the study is that the vision of the patients has improved after transplantation of cells, despite the progressive nature of the diseases and administering a low dosage.

With respect to the safety concerns of the patients, no signs of any problem emerged after 4 months of the transplantation. There was some doubt about the chance of cells being rejected or their abnormal growth. According to the researchers the object of the study was to examine such an eye transplant in patients who have dry AMD or Stargardts disease in their advanced stages. The structural changes after surgery confirmed that the process of attachment of transplants had begun.



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