A stem cell therapy is being developed which gives great hope to those with age-related macular degeneration.
The Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields Eye Hospital in Britain have completed trials on rats and pigs using embryonic stem cells. The trials demonstrated that stem cells can prevent blindness in these animals with a similar disease to AMD.
The clinical trial is due within two years. It is expected to be the second clinical trial in the world to use embryonic stem cells on humans. The first, on patients with spinal cord injuries, will start in the US this year.
The treatment involves replacing a layer of degenerated cells with new ones created from embryonic stem cells. Surgeons predict it will become a routine one-hour procedure that will be generally available within seven years.
MD Foundation CEO Julie Heraghty said this breakthrough could save the sight of hundreds of thousands of people with AMD.
“It’s exciting to know the impact this research will have on people with AMD all across the world,” she said. “Stem cell research has the potential to restore the sight of so many people who have lost vision due to AMD. The possibilities for this treatment are truly incredible.”
The director of the Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Peng Khaw, said the development showed stem cell therapy was coming of age.
"It offers great hope for many sufferers around the world who cannot be treated with conventional treatment," he said.
Click here to view the article in The Australian
To hear MD Foundation CEO Julie Heraghty's interview with 2UE presenter Tim Webster on 4 May 2009. Click here.
To view more research on MD, please click here.
24 April 2009