According to a study published on the 19th March 2018 in Nature Biotechnology, we can now successfully treat age related macular degeneration (AMD) using stem cells! A team of British and American researchers have been able to restore eyesight in two older people affected by ADM, a fairly common degenerative disease.
What is AMD?
When one of the layers that makes up the retina, called the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), is damaged, we talk about AMD. The damage to the retina kills the light sensitive cells. In 80% of cases, we are dealing with the least severe form of AMD, referred to as “atrophic” or “dry” AMD. In this case, the degeneration of the retinal cells is progressive. More rarely, you have “wet” AMD, which causes a visual problem such as a blind spot in the visual field.
AMD is the principal cause of sight loss in people over the age of 50.
Rapid and impressive restoration of vision
Two visually impaired British volunteers, a octogenarian and sexagenarian, showed a spectacular recovery of their eyesight, according to a statement from the Moorfields Hospital in London.
The British researchers developed a stem cell treatment for restoring vision in patients suffering from severe age related macular degeneration.
They were able to develop retinal pigment epithelium cells by using embryonic stem cells and transplanting these tissues, in a procedure that took only 1 to 2 hours.
“The patients were followed up for twelve months and they reported an improvement in their vision. They went from being unable to read even with glasses, to an ability to read 60 to 80 words per minute with ordinary reading glasses”, declared the researchers and co-authors of the study, Prof. Lyndon da Cruz and Prof. Pete Coffey.
Although this study was carried out on a very small group of patients, it should help to further develop techniques and procedures for regeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium. The researchers, for their part, hope that their discovery “will lead to a therapy which could be at patients’ disposition within the next 5 years” and they also hope to soon be able to treat atrophic AMD, the less severe form.