British Study: Stem Cell Transplants Restore 2 Patients' Vision
Mar 21 2018 by Kathy Alvarado
The surgery includes inserting the patch under the retina in each eye.
Douglas, who is from London, developed severe age-related macular degeneration in his right eye three years ago. The macular is the part of the eye that allows you to see straight ahead - whether to recognise faces, watch TV or read a book.
He says: "In the months prior to the activity my sight was extremely poor and I couldn't see anything out of my correct eye".
"It's brilliant what the team have done and I feel so lucky to have been given my sight back".
Other teams are testing so-called induced pluripotent stem cells ― adult human cells that have been reprogrammed to a youthful, versatile state. The task takes up to two hours.
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However, da Cruz stopped short of calling this a cure because it does not completely restore normal vision, BBC Newsreported.
Two patients, a man in his eighties and a woman in her sixties, are now able to read again after the procedure, which is the first of its kind.
However, since the operation he has now been able to use the eye to read a newspaper, to the speed of between 60 and 80 words a minute.
Eight more patients will take part in this clinical trial. Once that happens, the next step would be to ensure patients who need the transplant actually get it. There is a concern that the transplanted cells could become cancerous, although researchers haven't seen any signs of this so far, the BBC reported.
Professor Coffey said: "This study represents real progress in regenerative medicine and opens the door on new treatment options for people with age-related macular degeneration".
Prof Richard Burt, lead investigator, Northwestern University Chicago, told me: "The data is stunningly in favour of transplant against the best available drugs - the neurological community has been sceptical about this treatment, but these results will change that".
While the peripheral vision isn't affected, meaning patients don't have total sight loss, it can make it very hard to live independently and can lead to a legal classification of blindness. Doctors said they hoped the treatment could be an effective method of countering both variations of age-related blindness. The dry condition, which accounts for 70 percent to 90 percent of all cases, can develop into the wet type, which is marked by abnormal blood vessels leaking fluid or blood into the region of the macula in the center of the retina.