For those of us with macular degeneration I trust this is not a sham but a path to a viable solution…

…For those of us with macular degeneration I trust this is not a sham but a path to a viable solution…

Clinical trial shows breakthrough on reversing blindness caused by macular degeneration

 

By Walter Einenkel  ………2018/03/22 · 09:28……..Two elderly patients suffering from the loss of sight caused by macular degeneration have shown amazing progress reversing some of this loss. Macular degeneration begins leading to blindness as a support layer, behind the macula in our eyes, deteriorates. Doctors used stem cells to grow back a new retinal pigment epithelium and its support system, and then surgically implanted them in two patients.

 

The technique, published in Nature Biotechnology, starts with embryonic stem cells. These are a special type of cell that can become any other in the human body.

They are converted into the type of cell that makes up the retinal pigment epithelium and embedded into a scaffold to hold them in place. 

The living patch is only one layer of cells thick – about 40 microns – and 6mm long and 4mm wide. 

 

It is then placed underneath the rods and cones in the back of the eye. The operation takes up to two hours.   Published in Nature Biotechnology, the results have been very exciting. The BBCreports that the two patients went from not being able to read anything at all to being able to read 60-80 words per minute. And while doctors caution that this is not a cure, it is very promising for millions of people around the world.

 

Prof Pete Coffey, from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said: "This study represents real progress in regenerative medicine.

 

"We hope this will lead to an affordable ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy that could be made available to NHS patients within the next five years."

 

While there have been exciting prospects in gene therapy and the treatment for blindness, this treatment could have far larger ramifications. According to the Macular Degeneration Foundation, MD accounts for blindness. For more discussion head over to this diary.

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