Stem Cell Therapy to Restore Eye Sight of Visually Impaired Patients

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Moorfields Eye Hospital, London conducted eye surgery for visually impaired patients using stem cell transplant, which helped in restoring eye sight by repairing damaged retinal tissues

The first-of-its-kind procedure was carried out on a man with age 80 and woman of age 60, who were suffering from visual impairments due to vision disorder called as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Patients involved in study were unable to read under any conditions. After successful surgery they were able to read 60 to 80 words per minute using regular reading glasses. As a part of research, the stem cell-based RPE cells were grown on a plastic scaffold, which re-created the eye’s shapes and structure, before being transplanted into the back of patient’s eye.

A paper describing the work, ‘Phase 1 clinical study of an embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium patch in age-related macular degeneration,’ was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology. Replacement layer of cells called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) were grown artificially before transplant. These are used for supporting the retina cells, which capture light for vision. Loss of vision is caused by the death of the light-sensing retinal cells at the back of the eye, referred results into visual impairment. This growth of replacement RPE cells was carried out using human embryonic stem cells, undifferentiated cells which can be prompted to transform into specialized cells, depending on requirements.

Previous studies on stem cell report that they have potential to treat patients suffering from paralysis by inducing sense of touch back into affected patients. Researchers believe that solution based on this study can provide treatment option to visually impaired patients. However, further studies are required to carry out clinical trials to prove the efficacy of the treatment.

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