New Stem Cell Treatment Can Cure Macular Degeneration
Blindness in two patients were cured by new stem cell treatment, according to a report published on March 20, 2018.
People over the age of 50 are found to have this common cause of vision loss known as age-related macular degeneration. Macula responsible for the central vision is damaged due to this condition. Daily tasks such as driving and reading requires central vision. The treatment was carried out in Douglas Waters and another woman of 60 years old who suffers from severe macular degeneration in their eyes. The target of the researchers was the layer of cells behind the macula called the retinal pigment epithelium. Few of the eye cells are nourished by the retinal pigment epithelium and are involved in the development of this condition.
A new patch of retinal pigment epithelium was created by using stem cells. Initially, they used embryonic stem cells and then, these cells were coaxed into becoming retinal pigment epithelium cells. This patch was then surgically implanted into the affected eye of the patients. After one year, their improved vision was maintained without any side effects. Researchers are not sure about safety of the treatment and there is a concern about the transplanted cells becoming cancerous. However, no signs of cancer have been reported so far.
This treatment is currently applicable only for wet macular degeneration, which is a form of disease in which the macula is damaged by the growth of abnormal blood vessels. However, researchers are also planning to make this treatment helpful for patients who suffer from dry macular degeneration.
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