LivingTwo people recover their vision thanks to stem cells

Two people recover their vision thanks to stem cells

In July 2015, 86-year-old Douglas Waters developed severe age-related macular degeneration. A few months later, it became part of a clinical trial that used stem cell-derived cells in the eye developed in part by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (USA). The cell patch was implanted in Waters’ retina at Moorfields Eye Hospital, a National Health Service facility in the patient’s hometown of London, UK.

In the months leading up to the surgery, his vision was poor and he couldn’t see anything with his right eye. After surgery, his eyesight improved so much that he was able to read the newspaper and help his wife in the garden.

In addition to Waters, a woman in her early 60s who also suffered from a severe form of macular degeneration with low vision underwent the procedure. Both were followed for 12 months and both achieved improvements in their vision. They went from not being able to read, not even with glasses, to reading 60 to 80 words per minute with normal reading glasses.

Thus, the use of stem cells to repair the degenerative tissue in the back of the eyes of these two patients was a success , reversing their decreased vision in a great milestone for medicine.

The results of this groundbreaking clinical study, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology , describe the safe and effective implantation of a patch of retinal pigment epithelium cells specifically designed to treat people with sudden severe loss of sight from associated macular degeneration. at the age of.

“This study represents real progress in regenerative medicine and opens the door to new treatment options for people with age-related macular degeneration,” says Peter Coffey of the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and a co-author of the study.

Macular degeneration accounts for almost 50% of all visual impairments in the world and generally affects people over the age of 50.

The study investigated whether diseased cells in the back of patients’ affected eye could be replenished with nutrients using the stem cell patch. A specially designed surgical tool was used to insert the patch under the retina into each patient’s affected eye in an operation lasting one to two hours.

An affordable form of the same therapy is now expected to be available in the UK in the next five years, paving the way for millions of people around the world to regain their sight in one of the most common forms of blindness.

Reference: Lyndon da Cruz et al, Phase 1 clinical study of an embryonic stem cell – derived retinal pigment epithelium patch in age-related macular degeneration, Nature Biotechnology (2018). DOI: 10.1038 / nbt.4114

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