A new stem-cell-based procedure was performed on a patient in the UK with the aim to restoring eyesight a month ago. The woman has since shown no complication. The treatment will be done for more patients in the near future.
Vision loss is one of the downsides of ageing in many people, constituting a challenge for scientists to come up with ways to better their lives. Researchers from the London Project to Cure Blindness have been working on this type of treatment for around a decade. They have finally brought forth a stem cell procedure meant to restore sight in those dealing with a form of this condition known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD accounts for about 50 % of all visual impairment cases in developed countries; 50 million people all across the globe are said to be affected.
The two-hour procedure, carried out last month on a woman in the UK, entailed the transplant of eye cells derived from stem cells to the patient’s eyes. The transfer is made via an engineered patch that is placed behind the retina. It is designed for ‘wet’ AMD, which involves the leaking of fluid into the macula which is found near the centre of the retina.
“There is real potential that people with wet age-related macular degeneration will benefit in the future from transplantation of these cells,” said the retinal surgeon who performed the operation, Lyndon Da Cruz of Moorfields Eye Hospital, in a statement.
The patient is currently being monitored. She has undergone no complication so far. 9 other patients are planned to undergo surgery over the next 1.5 years. If the treatment is confirmed to be successful after the patients are monitored for a year, it may be used to treat the millions of people affected by AMD.
“We are tremendously pleased to have reached this stage in the research for a new therapeutic approach,“ said co-leader of the research, Pete Coffey from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, in the same press release. ”Although we recognise this clinical trial focuses on a small group of AMD patients who have experienced sudden severe visual loss, we hope that many patients may benefit in the future.”